UMaine knocks off No. 16 Clemson in season opener

Posted Feb. 24, 2012, at 8:21 p.m.

CLEMSON, S.C. — Mike Connolly made his first collegiate start behind the plate a memorable one Friday afternoon.

The sophomore stroked a two-out, RBI single to cap a two-run eighth inning that carried the University of Maine baseball team to a season-opening 6-5 victory over 16th-ranked Clemson at Kingsmore Stadium.

It was UMaine’s first victory over Clemson in 14 tries dating back to the first meeting — in the 1991 NCAA regional at Orono.

Coach Steve Trimper’s Black Bears responded after the Tigers (2-2) erased a 4-0 deficit by scoring four times in the bottom of the seventh.

Senior Jon Balentina earned the win with 1⅓ innings of hitless, one-run relief. Sean Coughlin came on to get the last two outs with runners at second and third.

Starter Steve Perakslis limited Clemson to eight hits and two earned runs over 6⅓ innings.

Sophomores Fran Whitten and Colin Gay sparked the UMaine offense. Whitten provided a two-out RBI single in the winning rally and also posted a run-scoring single in the Bears’ two-run sixth.

Gay lined a two-run home run to give the Bears a 2-0 lead in the fifth. He also doubled.

Freshman Brian Doran posted two singles and an RBI in his college debut, while Alex Calbick singled twice among 12 hits.

Phil Pohl and Thomas Brittle collected three hits each to lead the Tigers, who scored four times in the seventh to make it 4-4. Steve Wilkerson rapped a two-run double in the uprising.

Jonathan Meyer absorbed the loss in relief.

The Bears rallied in the eighth after Calbick drew a one-out walk and moved up on a groundout. Whitten singled to center to bring home the go-ahead run, then Doran and Connolly followed with back-to-back singles to make it 6-4.

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