April 27, 2018
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Maine wins third straight game

By Pete Warner

ORONO — Lehigh had seized the lead and the momentum, while a brisk wind chilled the players on Mahaney Diamond.

The University of Maine nonetheless found a way to spark a ninth-inning rally.

Tony Patane grounded a single under the dive of Lehigh shortstop Brandon Sady to score Kyle Stilphen with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth as the Black Bears pulled out a 10-9 victory to complete a sweep of Sunday’s baseball doubleheader.

“It’s a good test for us because we haven’t really experienced a walk-off or coming from behind in the bottom of the ninth,” Patane said. “It’s good for our confidence.”

In Sunday’s first game, freshman Jeff Gibbs pitched a dominating one-hitter in his home debut as UMaine won 8-1.

The Bears split Saturday, winning the second game 5-1 after dropping the opener 4-2.

In Sunday’s nightcap, UMaine survived subpar pitching and three errors to win.

The Nos. 6-9 batters accounted for eight hits and eight RBIs, sparking UMaine’s three-run second inning, a five-run fifth and the pivotal ninth.

Taylor Lewis ignited the winning rally by walking and stealing second. Stilphen then lined an opposite-field single to right off reliever Dan Ciccone.

“We’re just a resilient team,” said Stilphen, a sophomore from Pittston. “Our word of the year is ‘relentless’ and we’re always going to try to fight back.”

Stilphen moved up on Justin Leisenheimer’s sacrifice bunt and George Tager walked, setting up Patane’s clutch hit on a 2-2 offering from Ciccone.

“I knew he was going to come slider away again to see if he could get me to chase it and he hung it a little bit,” Patane said. “I just wanted to get it up the middle.”

UMaine had its runners going on the pitch, which forced the infielders to react and may have averted a double play.

“We were playing for a win, so I was like, let’s take a chance, let’s put these guys in motion,” Maine coach Steve Trimper said.

Lehigh (6-13), of Bethlehem, Pa., trailed 8-4 in the fifth, but reached the bullpen for single runs in the sixth, seventh and ninth and two in the eighth. The visitors went ahead 9-8 when Andy Russell drew a leadoff walk against relief winner Myckie Lugbauer and eventually scored on Logan Winchester’s two-out infield single.

Patane, a senior shortstop, collected a double, two singles and four RBIs out of the No. 9 spot. Stilphen rapped a double and three singles (two RBIs), while Lewis singled twice (two RBIs) in the Bears’ 13-hit attack.

Lewis and Stilphen each scored three times.

“We need to win games like that where we kind of falter a little bit, but then we just keep putting pressure on them and keep on an even keel and not panic,” Trimper said.

Austin Borden paced Lehigh with two doubles, two singles and an RBI. Russell doubled and singled (2 RBIs) among the Mountain Hawks’ 15 hits.

In Sunday’s first game, Gibbs (2-2) struck out five and walked two, but was in command throughout the scheduled nine-inning game.

“I had all my pitches, thankfully, and most of them were for strikes,” said the 6-foot-4 Canadian, who featured a fastball and slider with a few changeups. “To have a good tempo keeps the hitters off-balance and it makes sure that you’re in charge.”

Justin Leisenheimer went 3-for-3 with a triple, a double and a single and two RBIs to lead UMaine’s 12-hit attack. Joe Mercurio stroked two doubles with two RBIs and Ian Leisenheimer singled twice.

Lugbauer hit a solo homer.

Russell’s solo shot with one out in the fourth inning broke up Gibbs’ no-hit bid.

Lefty Greg Angelo (1-1) took the loss, allowing nine hits and five runs in three-plus innings.

UMaine tallied the eventual winning run in the third. Patane doubled down the left-field line, advanced on Mike Fransoso’s sacrifice bunt (UMaine had four Sunday), and scored when Mercurio lashed a double to left-center.

Tyler Patzalek followed with an RBI double past third base.

Justin Leisenheimer posted a triple, a double and a single (two RBIs), while Mercurio doubled twice (two RBIs) and Matt Howard provided an RBI single and a sacrifice fly.

Howard replaced junior starter Joey Martin of Portland, who sat out with a sore back.

In Saturday’s second game, A.J. Bazdanes pitched 6¤ strong innings as the Bears salvaged a split and halted a seven-game losing streak.

The Bears played errorless defense, receiving some gems from Patane and second baseman Fransoso.

“We won that game because we played defense,” Trimper said. “We made routine plays, but we also made the play that is tough to make.”

Bazdanes held Lehigh at bay. The sophomore righty (2-4) allowed six hits and one run with four strikeouts and four walks.

“I felt just fantastic. It was a good day,” Bazdanes said. “I threw a lot of fastballs. That’s what made me successful.”

Senior lefty Barry Keiffer allowed only one hit and struck out two in 2ª innings of relief.

UMaine scored all the runs it would need in the bottom of the second inning against losing pitcher Kent Corey (0-4).

Patzalek had an infield single and Lewis then roped a sinking liner to right field and the ball got past Russell and allowed both runs to score.

Lewis posted three singles and Martin added a single.

Winchester singled twice for Lehigh, which had a three-game win streak halted.

In Saturday’s first game, senior righthander Andrew Berger limited UMaine to five hits, leading Lehigh to victory.

Berger (1-0) struck out nine and hit two batters in a complete-game performance.

“We were swinging at bad pitches and not swinging at good pitches,” Trimper said.

Lehigh scored single runs in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Billy Goldman led the way with a double and two singles, while Jim McConlogue posted two singles.

The Bears were paced by Fransoso, who doubled and singled with an RBI. Martin added a run-scoring single.

Freshman righty Steve Perakslis (1-3) scattered seven hits, striking out three and walking three, for UMaine.



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