WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — Freshman Erik Figueredo delivered a pinch-hit sacrifice fly with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday evening, lifting the University of Hartford to a 7-6 America East baseball victory over Maine at Fiondella Field.
“Before I went up there, coach (Jeff Calcaterra) told me, get a ball you can drive, hit it deep, sac fly and that’s what I looked for is a ball I could drive,” said Figueredo, who admitted he didn’t relish the thought of facing Black Bears’ submariner Justin Latta.
UMaine committed three errors and struggled to get runners in from scoring position while losing to the last-place team in the conference.
UMaine (25-19, 9-6 AE) slipped into third place and now trails league-leading Binghamton (22-18, 13-3 AE) by 3 1/2 games and second-place Stony Brook (21-21, 10-6 AE) by a half-game.
The Bears’ hopes of hosting the America East championship were diminished by Saturday’s result.
“I think they got tight,” said UMaine coach Steve Trimper. “They want to win everything so they can host the tournament and we got tighter and Hartford got looser. Therefore, we didn’t perform the way we were supposed to.”
The teams play a doubleheader today with a seven-inning game at noon followed by a nine-inning contest.
On Saturday, Trimper’s Bears went 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position and wound up stranding 12 baserunners. UMaine also committed three errors that contributed to three unearned runs.
“We played horrible,” said Trimper, who pointed to poor pitching, miscues and mental mistakes. “It’s the worst game we played all year.
Michael Fransoso doubled and singled to pace UMaine while Taylor Lewis singled twice. Joe Mercurio hit a solo home run and Myckie Lugbauer stroked a two-run single.
Justin Latta (4-2) suffered the loss in relief of freshman starter Jeff Gibbs and freshman Steve Perakslis.
Steve Sobocinski (2-7) pitched 3 1/3 innings of one-hit, shutout ball to earn the win.
Andrew Siano homered, doubled and singled while scoring four runs for Hartford.
Jon Ricco opened the Hawks’ ninth by lashing a double to the gap in left-center. He advanced on Matt Walker’s sacrifice bunt, then scored when Figueredo lined out to right field.
“Any team can beat anybody on any given day,” Mercurio said. “The difference was, they did less things wrong than we did.
Mercurio said the Bears must refocus and play with confidence in Sunday’s doubleheader.
“Yes, it has implications for hosting, and this and that, but we have to get into the tournament before we can host it. That’s what it comes down to. We’ll come out firing (Sunday).”