Rutt commits to play for UMaine

University of Maine baseball catchers freshman Tyler Patzalek (left), and senior Joe Mercurio (right), work on catching popups as they practice outdoors for the first time this year Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 at Mahaney Diamond in Orono. Mercurio and fellow senior catcher Myckie Lugbauer (not pictured) said it was the earliest in the season they could remember practicing outdoors. This week's warm spell is expected to come to an end as snowfall begins today and temperatures plummet through the weekend. BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY BRIDGET BROWN
University of Maine baseball catchers freshman Tyler Patzalek (left), and senior Joe Mercurio (right), work on catching popups as they practice outdoors for the first time this year Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 at Mahaney Diamond in Orono. Mercurio and fellow senior catcher Myckie Lugbauer (not pictured) said it was the earliest in the season they could remember practicing outdoors. This week's warm spell is expected to come to an end as snowfall begins today and temperatures plummet through the weekend. BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY BRIDGET BROWN
Posted Jan. 28, 2010, at 12:18 a.m.
Last modified Oct. 19, 2010, at 11:19 a.m.

Defenseman Jacob Rutt has always wanted to play for his state university and he’ll get that opportunity beginning in the fall of 2011.

The Scarborough High School senior has verbally committed to play hockey at the University of Maine on a full scholarship.

Rutt is playing for the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs in the Eastern Junior Hockey League and has nine goals and nine assists in 29 games along with 65 penalty minutes. His nine goals are tops among the Monarch defenseman. Five have come on the power play.

He will play for the Monarchs again next year.

He commutes 90 minutes each way to practice and play for the Monarchs.

“He’ll fit in well at Maine. He’ll be a good asset,” said former Black Bear winger Jay Mazur, who coached Rutt at Scarborough. “He has a cannon for a shot and the size. He’s the type of kid who loves the game of hockey. He’s smart with the puck and sees things [develop].”

Mazur said Rutt’s snap shot, released quicker than a slap shot with a shorter back swing, is as effective as his slap shot.

Monarchs general manager and coach Sean Tremblay agreed.

“His snap shot is just as hard as his slap shot. He can rip the puck,” said Tremblay, who noted Rutt had a recent four-game, goal-scoring streak, which is rare for a defenseman. All came off snap shots.

“He is an incredible athlete,” said Tremblay. “He’s really raw right now but he’s getting better and better. He is an unbelievably hardworking kid. It’s an amazing commitment he makes [travel-wise]. He is really strong and is a very good skater. He can rush the puck like a forward. He should be able to step in right away like our other guys have.”

Tremblay was referring to six former Monarchs playing for Maine.

“I’m very excited,” said the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Rutt, who was a first-team All-State player as a defenseman and then as a forward at Scarborough.

“I’m very proud that I’ll be representing my home state,” said the 18-year-old Rutt, who is also an exceptional baseball player and a solid student according to Mazur and Tremblay. “It’s a great opportunity and I’m grateful to coach [Tim] Whitehead for giving me the opportunity.”

Whitehead is prohibited by NCAA rules from commenting on recruits until they have signed a National Letter of Intent.

He loves the rowdy fans and the fact “hockey means a lot to everyone in the community.”

He intends to work on all aspects of his game “so I can step in and make a solid impact as a freshman.”

His attending Maine is contingent upon his acceptance into school and meeting NCAA eligibility requirements.

UM’s Eastman earns all-star nod

Tyler Eastman of UMaine has accepted an invitation to compete in the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star football game.

Eastman, a senior offensive tackle from Old Town, will compete alongside some of the country’s top players in a contest that features a team of Texas-born college stars against a squad made up of standouts from across the nation.

The game will be played Feb. 6 at 2 p.m. in El Paso, Texas. It will be broadcast on CBS College Sports (DirecTV Ch. 613, Dish Network Ch. 152).

The 6-foot-6, 321-pound Eastman was an All-Colonial Athletic Association second-team choice last fall. He started all 11 games at left tackle for coach Jack Cosgrove’s Black Bears.

Eastman anchored a UMaine line that helped the Bears rank first in the conference with 247.6 passing yards per game, pass completions (248) and completion percentage (.644). The line also ranked fifth in sacks allowed.

Eastman will depart Portland on Sunday bound for El Paso, where he will participate in the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star Game’s weeklong activities.

Eastman, who started the final 24 games of his career at UMaine, is among several Football Championship Subdivision players in the game. Among his teammates are Massachusetts fullback Chris Zardas, James Madison defensive end Arthur Moats and William & Mary DE Adrian Tracy.

Balls fly at Mahaney Diamond

The UMaine baseball team achieved what is believed to be a program first Wednesday when it conducted part of a preseason practice outdoors in January.

Coach Steve Trimper’s team took advantage of Wednesday’s relatively mild (42 degrees) temperatures and its FieldTurf surface to do some drills on Mahaney Diamond.

The Bears are preparing for their season-opening three-game series Feb. 19-20 at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.

On Wednesday, after blowing and sweeping some snow out of the way, UMaine made room enough to catch fly balls and popups on the turf.

“The only thing we can’t do in the [Mahaney] Dome is hit fly balls,” Trimper said. “If we go out and crank fly balls up, have our outfielders and infielders and our catchers take popups, that will help us.”

Weather permitting, UMaine is schedule to open its home scheduled March 26-28 with a four-game set against Lehigh.

UMaine baseball fundraiser set

Fans of the UMaine baseball program will have the opportunity to meet Black Bear players, coaches and alumni during the program’s annual fundraising reception.

The reception is scheduled for Feb. 13 from 5-8 p.m. at coach Trimper’s home at 450 Walden Park Way off outer Essex St. in Bangor.

“You’ll meet a lot of past and present Maine baseball players,” Trimper said. “It’s a great way to hear some Maine stories and hear about the team. It’s a huge fundraiser for the Maine baseball program. It helps pay for our spring trip.”

The event, which will include appetizers and beverages, costs $50 per person. It is sponsored by The Muddy Rudder Restaurant in Brewer.

“They are awesome,” Trimper said. “They donate the drinks, the food, everything. It’s a really nice night.”

To register for the event, contact UMaine assistant coach Aaron Izaryk at 581-1098.

Cather joins Black Bears staff

Former UMaine baseball standout Billy Cather has joined Trimper’s staff this season as a volunteer assistant.

Cather, who completed his playing career last spring, got his opportunity when major leaguer Matt Stairs of Bangor agreed to a minor-league deal with the San Diego Padres.

Stairs recently had been helping out the Bears on a volunteer basis, but is pursuing the chance to play another major-league season.

Cather played in 193 games at UMaine and was a two-time All-America East second-team all-star in center field. The former team captain posted a .323 career batting average with 146 runs scored, 31 doubles, 13 home runs, 100 runs batted in and 60 stolen bases.

The former 33rd-round draft pick (2008) of the Washington Nationals graduated in December.

“Billy’s got great baseball knowledge,” Trimper said. “Billy’s got that knack to coach. He has some teaching ability.”

Trimper said Cather has been involved with UMaine’s winter leagues and clinics.

bdnsports@bangordailynews.net

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