ALBANY, N.Y. — Taylor Lewis sent a not so subtle message over the weekend that he is one of the most dynamic baseball players in America East this season.
The University of Maine sophomore went 8-for-12 with six runs batted in and six runs scored to help the Black Bears take two of three games in their series at Varsity Field.
Lewis, who patrols center field for coach Steve Trimper’s 17-14 ballclub, is having a breakout season.
“He just needed some playing time,” Trimper said of the speedy 6-foot, 200-pounder from Montville, Conn.
“He has outstanding tools.”
Lewis appeared in 35 games last season, including making 18 starts, and batted a solid .282. After the departure of center fielder Billy Cather, Lewis has blossomed.
Lewis, who picked up his third America East Player of the Week honor Monday, leads the conference in several offensive categories.
He tops America East in batting average (.417), hits (50), runs scored (38), RBIs (35), triples (9), total bases (88), on-base percentage (.486), slugging percentage (.733) and stolen bases (16, in 16 attempts). Lewis is fourth in doubles (8) and walks (15) and is tied for sixth with four home runs.
On Sunday, Lewis hit for the cycle in the Bears’ 9-2 opening-game victory. He became the first UMaine player to achieve the feat since Augusta native Rex Turner did it in 1997.
Lewis, who had three doubles, a triple and two homers in three games against the Great Danes, also set UMaine’s single-season record with his ninth triple (in 31 games).
He had two triples last season, which leaves him only eight shy of Curt Smith’s career mark of 19.
Lewis has recently been batting fifth in the UMaine order, behind freshman Tyler Patzalek and in front of sophomore Ian Leisenheimer.
“Tyler had a bunch of hits this weekend and Ian is an intimidating figure in there,” Trimper said. “If you surround yourself with good hitters, they’ve got to give you pitches to hit.”
Patzalek had been seeing time as the designated hitter, but played all four games last week at third base. He is filling in there for sophomore Kyle Stilphen of Pittston, who is nursing a shoulder ailment.
Patzalek batted .529 (9-for-17) last week with eight runs scored and four RBIs. He was 3-for-4 and scored three times Sunday in the Bears’ 11-5 Game 2 victory at Albany
He is hitting .317 this season.
UMaine goes back on the road next weekend for a four-game league series against Binghamton (9-15, 2-1 AE). Doubleheaders begin at noon Saturday and Sunday.
Freshman Gibbs taking charge
Righthander Jeff Gibbs appears to be stepping into the role as UMaine’s top starter.
The 6-4 freshman from Toronto was in command again Sunday, limiting Albany to four hits and two runs in 6¤ innings.
“He’s a talented kid, there’s no doubt about that,” Lewis said. “When he has his stuff working, it’s going to be hard for opposing teams to come close to hitting him, like you saw [Sunday].”
Gibbs, who struck out eight and walked three, has won his last three starts. His is 4-2 with a team-leading 4.30 earned run average and has racked up 49 strikeouts in 46 innings.
He leads America East in wins, innings pitched and strikeouts, starts (8). Gibbs is fourth in opponents’ batting average (.234).
In his last three outings, Gibbs has allowed only 10 hits and four runs with 18 strikeouts in 17¤ innings for a 2.08 ERA.
“Gibbs went out and had a dominant performance,” Trimper said of Sunday’s effort. “You get a good pitcher on the mound and it breeds confidence and that obviously helped in the first game and carried over to the second game, too.”
Nyquist named All-American
UMaine sophomore right wing Gustav Nyquist has been named an RBK Hockey/American Hockey Coaches Association Division I First Team Eastern All-American.
Nyquist, a Hobey Baker Award finalist, had been previously named to three other All-America first teams.
It is the 20th time in Maine’s hockey history dating back to 1977 that someone has been named a first-team All-American. Michel Leveille was the last honoree in 2007.
Nyquist led the nation in scoring with 61 points on 19 goals and 42 assists in 39 games. He had seven more points than runner-up Derek Stepan, the University of Wisconsin’s sophomore center. Stepan played in two more games.
Nyquist also led the nation in points per game (1.56) and shared the lead in assists with Stepan. Nyquist’s 61 points were the most by a Maine player since Steve Kariya had 65 during the 1998-99 season.
UM field hockey names captains
Midfielders Maire Dineen, Courtney Veinotte and Mallory Anderson have been named tri-captains for next year’s UMaine field hockey team.
Maine went 12-7 last fall and reached the America East semifinals where the Black Bears were beaten by eventual champ Boston University 5-2.
Dineen, a native of Toronto, was a second-team Eastern All-American and All-Northeast Regional selection this past season, during which she had two goals and five assists in 19 games. She was also named a University of Maine M Club Dean Smith Award winner given to the top male and female student-athletes for outstand-ing academic and athletic achievement along with citizen ship and community service.
Canaan’s Veinotte was chosen to the America East All-Tournament Team last fall and had 9 & 3 in 19 games. She has 14 & 5 in 51 career games.
Anderson, a native of Hampton Falls, N.H., had 1 & 7 in 19 games last fall and has played in 45 career games with 1 & 8.