June 23, 2018
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UMaine sweeps Hartford; winning streak at 13

By Pete Warner, BDN Staff

ORONO, Maine — A hard tag and aggressive slides led to high intensity Sunday afternoon at Mahaney Diamond.

Ultimately, the University of Maine was able to calm itself and patiently pull away for an 11-3 America East baseball victory over the University of Hartford.

The Black Bears took advantage of pleasant weather and appreciative crowds to complete the three-game sweep and extend their winning streak to 13.

UMaine (20-14, 7-0 AE) swept Saturday’s doubleheader, winning the opener 6-1 and taking the second game 7-2.

“I’m really pleased with everything we did [Sunday] and this weekend,” said UMaine coach Steve Trimper. “We’ve really come around.”

Emotions ran high early Sunday, sparked by physical play on the basepaths. However, both teams were able to quickly refocus.

“I think everybody was a little high on that scuffle we had going,” junior Michael Fransoso, who singled twice with an RBI and scored three runs. “We had a meeting in the dugout, said ‘Hey, guys, let’s settle down and get back to the way we were playing [Saturday].’”

UMaine put up “crooked numbers” in four innings, scoring four runs in the fifth inning to erase a 3-2 deficit and re-establish the upper hand.

The Bears waited out promising Hartford freshman lefthander Sean Newcomb (2-4), reaching him for seven hits and six runs in five innings.

UMaine scored twice in the first inning, then survived the tensions and wildness by starter Jeff Gibbs. He allowed only one hit in 3 1/3 innings, but walked three batters and hit two to fuel a three-run fourth inning by Hartford (8-25, 1-5 AE).

“He’s an emotional guy, so once those emotions got up there, I think he needed to settle down a little bit,” Fransoso said.

The Bears bounced back, then tacked on five runs against the Hartford bullpen to pull away.

Colin Gay and Justin Leisenheimer stroked two singles each, while Alex Calbick knocked in four runs, including a two-run double.

Ian Leisenheimer plated three runs with a single, a fielder’s choice and a sacrifice fly.

“It’s always nice coming home and sweeping a team at home,” Calbick said. “You’ve got your home crowd out there. The team played really well this weekend.”

Sophomore D.J. Voisine (3-0) was a calming influence, pitching 3 2/3 innings of three-hit, shutout relief. Fran Whitten finished it off with two scoreless innings.

“With these guys, all you’ve got to do is make them hit the ball,” Voisine said. “That’s kind of what I’ve been trying to do all year. Our fielders are good and I just let them field it.”

Brian Estevez (RBI) and Trey Stover each hit two singles to lead the Hawks.

In Saturday’s opener, junior righthander Steve Perakslis (4-2) limited Hartford to two hits. He struck out three, walked two and hit a batter.

With a stiff wind blowing in from center field, he was aggressive.

“My mindset was just to go in there, throw strikes and let the team take over from there,” Perakslis said.

Ian Leisenheimer singled three times in the second game, among four hits on the day.

Hartford righty Brian Hunter held UMaine to six hits but was hurt by three walks, three hit batsmen and two errors.

UMaine scored all the runs it would need in the second inning. Calbick snuck a one-out single through the left side and Whitten lined a single to center field before Justin Leisenheimer was hit by a Hunter pitch to load the bases.

Troy Black grounded into a fielder’s choice to push the first run across, then stole second. Fransoso walked and the second run scored on a wild pitch. Second baseman Estevez dropped Gay’s wind-blown popup, which resulted in two more runs.

The Bears scored two more in the sixth when Gay lined a two-run double to right-center that made it 6-1.

“Our guys were really conscious of trying to put the ball on the ground and we stayed short [with swings] today,” Trimper said of the approach in the wind.

Hartford scratched out its run in the fourth inning on an RBI double by Simon Kudernatsch.

In Game 2, the Bears built a 5-0 advantage behind starter Shaun Coughlin (3-2), then received 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief from Mike Connolly, who earned his third save.

Coughlin gave up eight singles, walked three and hit a batter, but held Hartford in check.

“They got some hits off of me and I just held it together and battled and got the win, so that’s all that matters,” Coughlin said.

The Bears logged 10 hits as Gay singled twice with an RBI and Black doubled and singled.

“Our attitude was really good today,” Gay said. “We came in fearless. We set goals before the game and we accomplished them.”

Estevez singled twice for the Hawks, who also registered 10 hits.

UMaine took the lead for good in the second after Calbick beat out an infield single, moved up on a groundout and scored on Justin Leisenheimer’s sacrifice fly.

The Bears pushed across the eventual winning run by scoring twice in the third. Ian Leisenheimer singled with one out, raced to third on an opposite-field double to left by Scott Heath of Westbrook and scored on a wild pitch by losing pitcher Hunter Englehart (0-6).

Tyler Patzalek made it 3-0 with a run-scoring groundout.

The hosts added two in the fourth on Fransoso’s sacrifice fly and an RBI single by Gay, before Hartford scored twice in the fifth.

Hartford stranded nine baserunners from the second through the sixth innings.

UMaine plays Division III Bates College of Lewiston in Orono on Wednesday before journeying to Ithaca, N.Y., for a four-game AE set against Binghamton next weekend.

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