Pitching will be the difference once postseason play comes around in three weeks for the University of Maine baseball team.
This weekend, the Black Bears will look to manage their pitching staff a bit during an America East series at Hartford.
UMaine (25-18, 9-5 AE) is two games behind league leader Binghamton (20-18, 11-3) going into Saturday’s play.
The Bears likely will have to win eight or nine of their last 10 to remain in contention for the bid to host the conference tournament, which will be played May 26-28 at the home field of the highest-seeded team.
Stony Brook (19-21, 8-6) also remains in the hunt, with three games remaining against Binghamton.
The Black Bears will have plenty of pitching options against the Hawks, as this is another of the three-game intradivision series. Hartford played three games at Orono two weeks ago, with UMaine earning a sweep.
Coach Steve Trimper hopes he can reduce the workload of his starters while finding some work for those who need it. Freshman Jeff Gibbs will start Saturday’s opener, with sophomore A.J. Bazdanes scheduled to follow.
Sophomore Keith Bilodeau is slated to make his second straight start in Sunday’s contest.
The alignment should provide a break for freshman starter Steve Perakslis. It also will open the door for senior Joe Miller, who is coming back from offseason elbow surgery, to log a few more innings after returning to action Sunday.
“I’m going to try to get Gibbs out as quick as I can, depending on the score,” Trimper said. “I want to rest him and Perakslis a little bit this weekend and get some work for Miller.”
In league play, this weekend’s starters have combined for a 6-3 record. Bilodeau (1.62), Gibbs (2.66) and Bazdanes (3.80) also rank among the top seven America East pitchers in earned run average.
Trimper said freshman pitchers often aren’t accustomed to the number of innings they wind up pitching during the lengthy college season.
“We build them up all year, since we get them in September, but this is the time of year they throw a lot,” Trimper said. “Going into the playoffs, you’ll see guys that have thrown a heck of a lot of innings and they wear down toward the end of the year.
“I’m hoping that with our staff we’re deep and a little more fresh as we get into the tournament,” he added.