June 24, 2018
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Gibbs, Black help UMaine beat Albany in series finale

By Pete Warner, BDN Staff

ORONO, Maine — After being swept Saturday, the University of Maine needed an emotional boost Sunday during its series finale against Albany.

Jeff Gibbs gave the Black Bears a big lift from the mound.

The junior right-hander shook off some recent struggles to pitch six shutout innings as the Black Bears halted a five-game losing streak with a 10-0 victory over the Great Danes at windy Mahaney Diamond.

“I don’t think I’m out of the water yet and there’s still a lot of season left to go, but I definitely needed this game,” Gibbs said. “It was good.”

On Saturday, Albany won 4-2 and 1-0 in 10 innings.

Coach Steve Trimper’s UMaine ballclub (22-19, 8-4 AE) heads into final exam week in third place behind Stony Brook (34-10, 12-2 AE) and Binghamton (18-18, 9-3 AE).

The Bears open a three-game series Saturday with a doubleheader at Albany.

“We’ve just got to build off this, go to Albany now and do what they did to us, which was win a series on their home field,” Trimper said.

On Sunday, Gibbs and D.J. Voisine combined on a four-hit shutout. Gibbs (3-4) struck out seven and walked three, before Voisine earned his first save, allowing two hits in

three innings.

With a New York Yankees scout looking on, Gibbs mixed in an effective slider and an occasional changeup with his lively fastball.

“I tried not to do too much,” Gibbs said. “I really tried to focus on harnessing my emotions and tried to pitch instead of throw.”

The Bears received four singles and an RBI from Troy Black, Ian Leisenheimer provided a double, two singles and two RBIs, and Fran Whitten singled twice.

UMaine ended a string of 12 scoreless inning in the first when Colin Gay lined a single to right and scored on Scott Heath’s one-out double off the right-field fence.

“We swung the bats well on a very brutal day to hit,” Trimper said. “The momentum just kept going after that.”

Albany’s Chase Austin (2-1) surrendered seven hits and seven runs in 3⅔ innings. The Bears scored three times in the third and four in the fourth.

The Great Danes committed three errors.

“We were definitely upset after the two losses [Saturday],” Leisenheimer said. “It was nice to end the weekend with a big win.”

Gibbs demonstrated his resolve during a shaky fourth inning. It included a leadoff walk, a wild pitch and Mike Tirri’s sharp, one-out single that caught Gibbs on the right leg and left him on the ground in pain.

He stayed in the game and walked Greg Muller to load the bases, but struck out the next two batters to escape the jam.

“We know Gibbs has it in him. It’s just a matter of time,” Leisenheimer said.

UMaine did not make an error on the weekend.

Leisenheimer hit an RBI double in the third and a run-scoring single in the fourth, while Brian Doran ripped a pinch-hit RBI single and Black blooped an RBI double, both in the seventh.

In Saturday’s second game, senior Sean Lucas shut out the Bears for eight innings and Craig Lepre’s RBI triple in the 10th gave Albany the win.

Righty Shaun Coughlin held the Great Danes scoreless on three hits through eight innings, then gave way to classmate Mike Connolly (3-4).

“They don’t support you [with runs], they do, you just keep going,” Coughlin said. “There’s nothing you can do. You’ve just got to focus on your job and get it done.”

Lucas, who in 2009 pitched at the University of Virginia and graduated from there last year, is attending graduate school at Albany. He fanned six with no walks, mixing a fastball, a slider and a changeup effectively.

“I adapted to it,” Lucas said of the cool, windy conditions. “I just tried to mix it up, keep the batters off-balance and throw strikes.”

Greg Lutton (2-3) pitched the ninth and 10th innings, giving up only one hit.

Albany rallied with two out in the 10th. Brian Bullard singled through the middle, then Lepre worked a 2-1 count before lacing a triple into the right-field corner.

The Bears posted four doubles, but went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

“Shaun and Steve [Perasklis] both did a good job and we’ve got to do a better job manufacturing runs,” said UMaine’s Tyler Patzalek.

Heath, Justin Leisenheimer and Ian Leisenheimer doubled for UMaine.

Nolan Gaige doubled and singled for Albany, which managed only 10 hits on the day.

In Saturday’s opener, Zach Kraham (3-5) struck out four and walked four, but kept the Black Bears off-stride.

Albany scored all the runs it would need in the fifth against UMaine starter Perakslis (4-4). Joey Tracy worked a leadoff walk and advanced on Jeff Welsh’s sacrifice bunt before Gordon Madej drew a two-out walk.

Gaige brought in the first run with a line single off the glove of leaping first baseman Justin Leisenheimer, then D.J. Hoagboon ripped a two-run triple.

“We didn’t give up many runs but, guess what, we walked three of those four runs,” Trimper said.

The Bears scored twice in the fifth. Sam Balzano of Portland and Black walked, then Fransoso lined an RBI double to left. He was erased when he tried to advance on Colin Gay’s run-scoring grounder to shortstop.

The Bears lacked clutch hits and ran into some outs on the bases.

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