ORONO — Pinch hitter Jeff Welsh stroked a solo home run with one out in the top of the 12th inning Monday afternoon, lifting the University at Albany to a 7-6 America East baseball victory over the University of Maine at Mahaney Diamond.
The Great Danes (14-20, 6-4 AE) overcame a ninth-inning comeback by the Black Bears to salvage the series finale and move past UMaine (15-21, 5-5 AE) into third place in the league standings.
“It’s tough going into extra innings and winning on someone else’s home field,” said Welsh, who homered off UMaine freshman D.J. Voisine (1-1).
“I was looking for a fastball up in the zone,” he explained. “I was ahead in the count 3-1. He threw me three fastballs down and once close and then he missed a spot, I guess. I knew I got it.”
UMaine spent much of the contest working around the wildness of its pitchers. The Bears issued four walks and hit six batters, including three each by starter A.J. Bazdanes and Jon Balentina.
Albany stranded 11 baserunners in the game.
UMaine had two baserunners picked off and failed to capitalize on many of its potential scoring chances. They went 4-for-18 with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base.
“We’ve got to be able to move runners around, that’s the only way we’re going to win this year,” said UMaine coach Steve Trimper. “You can’t hit six guys and you’ve got to get a bunt down.”
UMaine overcame a three-run deficit in the late innings, but couldn’t cash in on scoring opportunities in extra innings.
Albany hung on as four relief pitchers combined to hold UMaine scoreless over the last three innings. Ryan White (2-3) pitched a scoreless 11th to get the win and Matt Dybus worked the 12th for a save.
“After coming back, tying the game up and then going to extra innings, it does leave a sour taste in your mouth knowing that we could have come away with a sweep,” said sophomore shortstop Michael Fransoso, who doubled and tripled with two RBIs.
UMaine scored two in the ninth inning off reliever Greg Lutton. Alex Calbick worked a leadoff walk and was lifted in favor of pinch runner Eric White. Two outs later, Lewis lofted an RBI double to left-center.
Fransoso followed, lacing a 3-2 pitch past center fielder Rob Cervini for a double that made it 6-6.
Lutton walked Joey Martin intentionally before righty Kevin Cowan struck out Justin Leisenheimer looking.
“We showed a lot of resilience this weekend,” said Lewis, who doubled twice and singled. “We had a lot of momentum going, especially when we came back and tied it up.
“We had a lot of opportunities, we did a lot of good things, but we also did a lot of bad things,” he added.
Behind two scoreless innings from Voisine, the Bears threatened twice more.
In the 10th, Mike Connolly and Eric White drew one-out walks, but were stranded as Austin Chase came on to record the final two outs.
In the 11th, Lewis lined a leadoff single and stole second, but White worked out of the jam.
“It’s a nice comeback, but it’s all for naught because we couldn’t do it earlier in the game and when we got into extra innings,” Trimper said. “We had guys on third base, second base, and we couldn’t get a bit hit to seal it.”
Albany starter Zach Kraham allowed only six hits and three runs in six innings of work. He struck out six, walked three and hit two batters.
Albany broke a 3-3 tie with three runs in the seventh. John Muller and D.J. Hoagboon hit one-out singles off Balentina, before Joe Ilacqua (two singles) lined a two-run single and pinch hitter Mike Tirri added a pinch-hit RBI single, both off Shaun Coughlin.
UMaine got one run back in the seventh. Ian Leisenheimer was hit by a pitch, then Troy Black singled to left. Black was picked off by Lutton, but one out later Fransoso lined an RBI double to left-center.
Lutton retired Joey Martin on a flyout to right.
Black doubled and singled and Fran Whitten chipped in with two singles. Martin added a double and a sacrifice fly.
Ilacqua posted another single and Nolan Gaige singled twice for Albany.