ORONO — For 15 innings Friday, Binghamton University pitchers kept the University of Maine off the scoreboard.
With one swing of the bat, Justin Leisenheimer restored the Black Bears’ enthusiasm and momentum.
Leisenheimer blasted a solo home run on the first pitch of the ninth inning, then Troy Black stroked a run-scoring double with two outs as UMaine pulled out a 2-1 baseball victory in the second game of an America East doubleheader at Mahaney Diamond.
“You’ve got to stay positive, because the game’s not over until your last at-bat, until the last pitch is thrown,” said Leisenheimer, whose homer was his team-leading sixth of the season. “I just went up there confident.”
The Bearcats had shut out coach the Black Bears 8-0 in the first game behind five scoreless innings from starter James Giulietti (5-5).
The teams close out the regular season Saturday with a 1 p.m. doubleheader. UMaine will honor its four seniors prior to the twinbill.
UMaine (27-22, 16-6 AE) retains second place in the standings and needs one win to lock up the No. 2 seed for next week’s America East tournament. Binghamton (21-24, 13-8 AE) remains in third place.
Stony Brook secured the No. 1 seed and the regular-season title by sweeping Friday’s doubleheader against Albany. The tournament will be played on the Seawolves’ new FieldTurf facility, Joe Nathan Field.
In the nightcap, the Bears ended their collective offensive funk in the ninth against reliever Morgan Smith (2-1). Leisenheimer provided the impetus, picking on Smith’s first pitch.
“I had the mindset if he throws me a first-pitch fastball, (I would), like I pretty much always do, swing out of my shoes and put a good swing on the ball,” Leisenheimer said.
The homer to left-center gave the Bears the boost they needed.
“That was huge,” Black said. “It felt like the momentum was teetering on their side, but after the home run, it was all on our side, all downhill.”
The freshman class took over from there. Alex Calbick worked a walk, but Smith struck out the next two batters, which brought up No. 9 hitter Black.
The freshman got a pitch he could handle.
“He threw me in(side) and I just got my hands in,” Black said. “I was able to hit it over the first baseman’s head and it just kept going.”
Calbick scored all the way from first base with a headfirst dive. He also had scored the game-winner on a squeeze play in Sunday’s series finale against Hartford.
Keith Bilodeau (9-2) pitched three scoreless innings in relief of starter Jonathan Balentina (four hits, one run) to register the win.
“I knew the hits were going to come, so it made it a lot easier to pitch and keep it a close game,” said Bilodeau, who was limited to 50 pitches in order to rest up for his start in the postseason opener. “I knew we were going to come through in the end.”
Dave Ciocchi singled twice for Binghamton, including an RBI single in the third inning. Starter Mike Augliera pitched six innings of one-hit shutout ball, extending his string of scoreless innings against UMaine to 17 dating back to last season.
In Game 1, Peter Bregartner slammed a two-run home run and stroked a two-run double to propel the Bearcats.
BInghamton collected 10 hits and was afforded nine walks and a hit batsman by UMaine pitching as they snapped the Bears’ 11-game winning streak.
“We didn’t play well in the first game, bottom line,” Trimper said. “We walked nine guys and we got away from our plan hitting-wise.”
Bregartner’s two-run shot in the first inning off Bears starter Jeff Gibbs (5-5) proved to be the only runs the visitors would need.
Lee Sosa and Zach Juliano pitched an inning each in the winning effort.
“Their guys did a great job of getting strike one and keeping our hitters off-balance all day,” Trimper said.
Mike Danaher singled three times with an RBI for the Bearcats, and Corey Taylor doubled and singled.
UMaine mustered only five singles while Gibbs walked three and allowed two runs in four innings, before A.J. Bazdanes surrendered seven hits and walked six, including two with the bases loaded.