ORONO, Maine — One may be the loneliest number, but it’s also the “magic” number for the University of Maine baseball team.
One victory by the Black Bears, or a loss by fifth-place Maryland Baltimore County, over the last two weekends of regular-season play will give UMaine its first America East Championship berth since 2007.
Coach Steve Trimper’s team looks to take the first step toward a possible league title during this weekend’s three-game series against Albany at Mahaney Diamond.
Second-place UMaine (28-19, 11-6 AE) and fourth-place Albany (9-34, 8-10 AE) play a three-game set, with a 3 p.m. doubleheader today and a 1 p.m. single game Sunday.
“We can’t go in like we did last year, looking to take one game, then one game,” said senior co-captain Tony Patane. “We want to go in and win out from here on in and see where it takes us.”
Saturday kicks off “Senior Weekend” as UMaine will honor its six seniors prior to today’s first game. The Bears’ seniors include Barry Keiffer, Justin Latta, Myckie Lugbauer, Joe Mercurio, Patane and George Tager.
UMaine, which has been in postseason contention on the final day of the season each of the last two years, only to fall short, nonetheless doesn’t want to settle for the minimum.
The Bears still have an outside shot of hosting the America East tournament, which begins May 28, so that remains their focus.
“We’re still trying to host, that’s what our aspirations are,” Patane said. “We’re still trying to win out.”
Even so, there is some comfort in knowing the Bears are close to reaching one of their season goals — especially after last year, when UMaine watched from afar as their playoff dreams were shattered.
“You knew if you made one mistake, it could be the end of your season,” said senior Joe Mercurio.
“Knowing that you’re in, it takes a tremendous amount of pressure off, but wanting the best seed is always going to give you that extra energy,” he added, hoping the Bears take care of that end of things early Saturday.”
In the meantime, Trimper and his staff will try to get everything lined up to make a run at the championship.
“Yes, it’s nice to be in a position to get in the tournament, but we’re starting to think about how we can win the tournament right now,” Trimper said.
However, that those kinds of moves won’t be put into effect until UMaine takes care of business and the playoff picture becomes clearer.
“Once we’re in this tournament and we know if we can host or can’t host, that gear gets switched to how do we win the tournament,” Trimper said.
UMaine looks to start generating some momentum toward the postseason against the Great Danes.
“This weekend’s big, against Albany, because it is going to determine a lot,” Patane said. “If we take three, we’re going to be sitting in a pretty good driver’s seat.”