ORONO, Maine — The offense has been sporadic this season for the University of Maine baseball team.
As a result, the Black Bears are 2-6 in the northern portion of their schedule thus far and have lost six of their last seven games.
Coach Steve Trimper’s team (7-14) is trying to rediscover its collective batting stroke with its America East opener now only 10 days away. The Bears are hitting only .251 as a team, averaging only 4.5 runs per game.
“The guys just need to start hitting the way we’re capable of,” said Trimper, whose team departs Friday for a four-game series at Norfolk (Va.) State. “We’re in a slump where not one guy’s in it; there’s a bunch.”
UMaine’s upperclassmen have struggled. Junior Mike Fransoso leads the group at .250, while classmate Tyler Patzalek (.231) and senior twins Justin Leisenheimer (.190) and Ian Leisenheimer (.206) also are off to slow starts.
“It’s a couple of the older guys that are supposed to be leaders,” Fransoso said.
“They kind of look for us to lead them and the team and we really haven’t done that thus far.”
He praised the contributions of the younger players.
Sophomore Colin Gay leads the starters at .301 with a home run and 10 runs batted in, while freshman Brian Doran (.288, 7 RBI), sophomore Alex Calbick (.266, 11 RBI) and freshman Sam Balzano of Portland (.348, 6 RBI) have provided a spark.
“Some of the younger guys have actually stepped up and helped us out a lot,” Fransoso said. “They’re doing their job. We don’t want to ask too much of them.”
Trimper said the Bears have scored less because of their inability to get clutch hits with runners on base.
“These guys will come around,” he said. “This is the core of guys that got us to the Regionals, that have consistently won for us, and they’re just going through a slump collectively.”
Trimper said it is his job to help the players re-establish their confidence and motivate them to play to their potential.
Despite the lack of offensive punch, UMaine players aren’t panicking by any stretch, but they’re disappointed about their efforts after losing three of four in Rhode Island.
Gay said players are pressing and trying to do too much as a result of the expectations they have developed after such a successful 2011 season.
“We’re thinking about it way too much,” he said. “I think it’s way more mental than physical. We are good players, we are a good team.”
The Bears’ record isn’t a huge concern in the grand scheme of things. Last season, UMaine started out 6-16 then wound up winning the conference title and advancing to the NCAA’s Chapel Hill (N.C.) Regional, where it won a game.
“It’s not too complicated,” Gay said. “We just need to get back to playing Maine baseball like last year, doing what we know how to do.”