April 24, 2018
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Black Bears take advantage of early America East schedule

BDN File Photo/Kevin Bennett | BDN
BDN File Photo/Kevin Bennett | BDN
UMaine baseball players Justin Leisenheimer, right, and his twin brother Ian have combined to be hit by a pitch 77 times during the past four seasons.
By Pete Warner, BDN Staff

ORONO, Maine — Two weeks into the America East schedule, things couldn’t be much better for the University of Maine baseball team.

Coming off a three-game sweep of Hartford at Mahaney Diamond, the Black Bears are atop the conference standings with a 7-0 record.

Coach Steve Trimper’s UMaine ballclub (20-14) has rattled off 13 straight wins heading into Wednesday’s 5 p.m. nonleague contest against Division III Bates College of Lewiston.

It is the longest winning streak for UMaine since the Bears won 23 in a row during the 1991 season.

“We’ve won games on this little win streak we’ve got going on, in many different ways,” Trimper said. “We’ve slugged it out, we’ve grinded it out; we’ve put one [run at a time] up, we’ve moved guys around, we stole bases, we got two-out RBIs — every combination.”

UMaine has made hay against the two lower-echelon teams in America East, Hartford and Maryland Baltimore County. As a result, the Bears hold a two-game lead over second-place Stony Brook (24-10 overall, 5-2 AE) and a 2½-game edge over third-place Binghamton (13-14, 4-2 AE).

The Bears expect they’ll have to elevate their level of execution this week when they head back on the road for a four-game series against Binghamton in Ithaca, N.Y.

“We’re rolling pretty well right now and hopefully we can keep those games going for next week and then the week after,” sophomore pitcher D.J. Voisine said.

UMaine continues to work on setting and accomplishing some small, in-game goals that help them focus on the short term. That has also affected the need for each player to contribute unselfishly.

“We played as a team, not as an individual effort [against Hartford], and I think that helped us a lot and got us the wins, so that was good,” said sophomore third baseman Alex Calbick.

The Bearcats had won five straight going into a Tuesday doubleheader at Marist.

Through Sunday, UMaine ranked second in America East batting with a .294 average and was first in runs per game (7.1). Stony Brook leads the way with a .315 average.

The Bears continue to pare down the team earned run average and stand at 5.51, good for third in the conference. The Seawolves boast a sparkling 2.88 ERA, limiting opponents to a .236 batting average.

Morrill, Patzalek sidelined

Two more players were added to the Black Bears’ injury list last week.

Freshman pitcher Luke Morrill of South Thomaston experienced a sore arm three pitches into last Wednesday’s start against Colby College of Waterville and was unable to go on the weekend.

He’ll sit out in the hope the soreness will resolve itself with rest and treatment.

Junior catcher Tyler Patzalek was forced to leave Sunday’s game against Hartford after experiencing back issues.

Patzalek hit a sacrifice fly in the first inning, but was unable to take his at-bat in the fourth because of back pain. He was replaced in the lineup by sophomore Mike Connolly.

Patzalek’s status is day to day.

Twins take some for team

UMaine senior twins Ian Leisenheimer and Justin Leisenheimer continue to demonstrate a propensity for being hit by pitches.

Ian has been plunked 12 times this season to lead the squad and Justin has been hit with a pitch eight times.

Ian continues to hold the upper hand over his brother in the career competition as well. He has been hit by a pitch 41 times in 168 games.

Justin is close behind, having taken 36 for the team in 155 contests over three-plus seasons.

Hartford’s James Alfonso tops America East in that category this season at 14.

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