It was a somewhat frustrating opening weekend for the University of Maine baseball team.
The Black Bears stepped off the plane and beat No. 16 Clemson in Friday’s opener, but squandered leads of four and six runs on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, to leave South Carolina with a 1-2 record.
UMaine arrived Monday in Tallahassee, Fla., where it opens a two-game series against Florida A&M on Tuesday before taking on Florida State on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
UMaine coach Steve Trimper said the Bears were dissatisfied with the results against Clemson, which is coached by Bangor native and former UMaine baseball and football player Jack Leggett.
“We’re teed off that we didn’t win the series,” Trimper said. “We didn’t play great baseball and we were in all three games.”
On the mound, junior Steve Perakslis debuted well Friday, going 6⅓ innings, and senior Jon Balentina was steady in two relief outings. Overall, the Bears issued 17 walks in 25 innings and could not consistently hold down a potent Tigers lineup.
“The guys went out there and we were in a lot of hitter’s counts,” Trimper said. “When we had pitcher’s counts, we couldn’t do anything. I’ve got to give a ton of credit to their hitters.”
The Bears batted .296 against Clemson, averaging almost six runs per game against Atlantic Coast Conference pitching. The catalyst was leadoff hitter Colin Gay.
The sophomore center fielder went 8-for-14 (.571) with a home run, four RBIs and three runs scored.
“Colin was absolutely unconscious this weekend hitting,” Trimper said. “He had great at-bats.”
He led off Friday’s game with a 10-pitch at-bat against Clemson starter Kevin Brady.
Freshman right fielder Brian Doran made a quick transition to college ball, going 4-for-11 with an RBI, while sophomore catcher Fran Whitten (3 RBI) and sophomore third baseman Alex Calbick each posted four hits.
“We really played our type of game,” Trimper said. “We went ‘back door’ on a couple of overthrows, we bunted well, we hit-and-ran. We really had a lot of positives offensively.”
The Bears committed only three errors, all in the first game.
Trimper said his players enjoyed playing in the intense Clemson atmosphere (the Tigers averaged 4,374 fans) and handled it well.
“I didn’t see tightness on our guys. I didn’t see panic, I didn’t see pressure,” Trimper said.
UMaine simply failed to execute, both with pitches in key situations and at the plate when it needed clutch hits. The Bears hope to start polishing their skills as they head into the Florida portion of their spring break trip.
Labreck, Bergstrom pace UM track
Jesse Labreck of Oakland and John Bergstrom of Upton, Mass., headed UMaine’s performers in last weekend’s New England Championships at Boston University.
Labreck was the runner-up in the triple jump. The senior leaped 39 feet, 8¾ inches, among the top three efforts in school history.
Bergstrom finished fourth in the heptathlon, setting a school record with 4,889 points. That eclipsed the mark of 4,694 points set by Brian Martel a year ago.
Bergstrom’s best effort came with a first-place finish in the 1,000 meters (2:41.59). He also took third in the pole vault at 13 feet, 3½ inches.
Other top efforts for the Bears men included Trevor England’s seventh-place finish in the triple jump and Matthew Toothaker’s ninth in the heptathlon. On the women’s side, Mary Scanlan took 10th in the 800 meters.
UMaine returns to action this weekend at the IC4A and ECAC championships.