ALBANY, N.Y. — The University at Albany put a major crimp in Maine’s postseason playoff plans by sweeping both weekend baseball doubleheaders by beating the Black Bears 6-5 and 8-2 Saturday at Varsity Field.
Albany swept on Friday 3-2, 7-5.
The losses leave Maine in a tie for third place with Stony Brook in the America East conference standings with a 9-7 league record with eight league games remaining.
Maine will have to finish ahead of Vermont (7-9) and Stony Brook to host the league tourney as the two current top seeds, Binghamton and Albany, don’t have suitable sites to host a tournament.
The Bears will host Binghamton for four games this weekend and travel to New York the following weekend to take on Stony Brook for its final four games of the regular season.
Maine coach Steve Trimper said despite the losses to Albany and his team’s 2-6 record in its last eight league games, “we still control our own destiny. If we go out and play well and do what we’re supposed to do, we can put ourselves back in the driver’s seat.”
“We didn’t get two wins we should have had this weekend when we took leads into the late innings. We didn’t close the games out,” said Trimper whose Bears squandered a 1-0 lead by giving up three sixth-inning runs in a 3-1 loss on Friday and then allowed four seven-inning runs in the 6-5 Saturday loss.
In the first game, the Great Danes scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh to win. Dave West capped the rally with a single to score the game-winning run. Gary Pitcheralle hit a solo home run in the first and an RBI double to pace the offense. Kyle Crean had a double and a single.
Billy Cather hit a solo homer in the top of the first and singled for the Bears, who also got two singles out of Justin Leisenheimer. Jarrett Lukas of Old Town hit a solo homer in the fourth. Danny Menendez had a sacrifice fly and two total RBIs, but it was his steal of second in the fourth that was most significant as he tied Chad White’s school record for stolen bases in a season with 35.
Maine regained the lead in the fourth when Lukas hit his fourth homer of the season to make it 3-2 and added two more in the sixth as Kevin McAvoy of Brewer walked and Justin Leisenheimer singled to center. McAvoy scored on an error by pitcher Ryan White and Leisenheimer scored on Menendez’s sacrifice fly to make it 5-2 Maine.
In the seventh, Crean led off with a double and scored on Eichner’s single. Jim Banks then drew a walk, before Maine’s Alejandro Balsinde relieved Maine starter AJ Bazdanes. Pitcheralle scored pinch-runner Pete DiResta with a double and Donovan, who reached on a fielder’s choice grounder, moved to third. Brendan Rowland was intentionally walked to load the bases for Ryan Gugel, who reached on a fielder’s choice grounder that resulted in a force at home for the second out. West then singled down the left-field line to score the winning and tying runs.
In the second game, Gugel belted a two-run homer and a single to pace a 13-hit attack by the Danes.
Sean Donovan hit a solo home run and singled for Albany. West and Pete Eichner each had two singles and an RBI. Mike Tirri and Brendan Rowland each hit two singles. Zack Graham pitched 5ª innings of five-hit, one-run ball to earn the victory for Albany.
For the Black Bears, Joey Martin had three singles and Menendez had two.
Albany jumped out to a 2-0 lead on Gugel’s homer and never really looked back. The Danes scored twice more in the third on West’s RBI single and a bases-loaded walk to Crean.