DeLAND, Fla. — Keith Bilodeau pitched eight innings of shutout ball Monday night, leading the University of Maine to a 6-0 baseball victory over previously unbeaten Stetson at Melching Field.
The junior righthander (1-0), making his first start of the season, allowed only four hits, all of them singles. He struck out 10 and walked three while throwing more than 120 pitches.
“I felt good. I was glad to go out and get our first win,” Bilodeau said. “I feel like getting that first one out of the way is the biggest one.”
He said the most important thing, after UMaine’s pitching struggles last weekend at UNLV, was simply throwing strikes.
“I knew I just had to come out and attack the strike zone,” Bilodeau said. “I think the key was going out and getting first-pitch strikes and making them put the ball in play.”
Bilodeau was backed by a 17-hit UMaine attack, one that provided four runs in the second inning to give him a comfortable cushion.
The pitch count wasn’t an issue, according to Bilodeau.
“I was hungry. I wanted that win so bad,” said Bilodeau, who did have to deal with a blister on his pitching hand. “I just wanted that win. I didn’t get tired at all. I just got more excited as the game went along.”
Junior lefthander Jon Balentina pitched a scoreless ninth to preserve the win for Bilodeau and the Black Bears (1-5), who earned their first win of the season. It was UMaine’s second straight strong pitching performance after Jeff Gibbs and Steve Perakslis allowed only three runs in Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Hatters.
The two teams meet Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the rubber game of the series.
Sophomore Tyler Patzalek sparked the UMaine offense with three hits, including a double, while freshman second baseman Eric White of Brewer posted two singles and a sacrifice fly with two RBIs. Senior Joey Martin of Portland had two singles and two RBIs, while freshmen Mike Connolly (1 RBI) and Alex Calbick also stroked two singles each.
Jeff Simpson led Stetson with two singles.
UMaine scored all the runs it would need in the second inning off starter Will Dorsey.
Patzalek ignited the rally with a single to center field, but was cut down trying to take third on Justin Leisenheimer’s single down the left field line. Freshman Matt Verrier of Norway and White followed with consecutive singles through the left side, loading the bases.
Connolly plated the first run with a single to left, and after a fielder’s choice, freshman Colin Gay hit a run-scoring infield single to chase Dorsey.
Martin then greeted reliever Tucker Donahue with a two-run single through the left side.
The Bears added an insurance run in the seventh when Patzalek rapped a two-out double, pinch hitter Fran Whitten beat out an infield hit, Verrier was hit by a pitch and White drew a bases-loaded walk.
UMaine scored one in the ninth on singles by Calbick, Patzalek and Pat Thibodeau of Caribou and a sacrifice fly off the bat of White.