June 18, 2018
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Hartford wins series finale; UMaine clinches America East tourney berth

By BDN Staff Reports, Special to the BDN

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — Brian Estevez singled with one out and eventually scored on a fielder’s choice in the ninth inning Sunday, lifting the University of Hartford to an 8-7 America East baseball victory over the University of Maine at Fiondella Field.

Coach Steve Trimper’s Black Bears (25-21, 11-7 AE) had clinched a berth in the four-team conference tournament on Saturday as Mike Fransoso slammed a three-run home run in each game to propel UMaine to a sweep.

Fransoso belted a three-run shot in the eighth inning to lift the Black Bears to a 6-3 win in the scheduled seven-inning opener, then hit a three-run homer in their 7-1 victory in Game 2.

In Sunday’s finale, Andy Drexel knocked in five runs with a home run and two singles to lead the Hawks (15-38, 6-15 AE).

Austin Barnes (2-6) pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn the win for Hartford, which had built an early 5-2 lead. Simon Kudernatsch singled three times and scored three runs for the hosts.

Colin Gay led UMaine with two singles and three RBIs, Alex Calbick plated two runs with a double and a single and Tyler Patzalek doubled and singled.

Fran Whitten (2-3) took the loss in relief after starter Jeff Gibbs lasted only 2⅓ innings while giving up three hits, two walks, a hit batter and five runs.

The Bears scored twice in the ninth to make it 7-7. Fransoso walked, moved up on Gay’s single and took third on an error. Scott Heath of Westbrook was walked intentionally to load the bases, then Calbick delivered a two-run single to right.

Barnes struck out Ian Leisenheimer, then Heath was caught in a rundown between third and home for the final out.

The Hawks responded in the ninth when Estevez singled off Whitten with one out, then Mike Connolly came on and gave up a double to Kudernatsch. Drexel was walked intentionally before Hunter grounded to shortstop but reached when the relay throw from the second baseman pulled the first baseman off the bag.

Drexel had an RBI single in the first, a two-run homer in Hartford’s four-run third and a two-run double in the seventh for the Hawks.

Gay stroked a two-run single in the third, Justin Leisenheimer hit a run-scoring single in the fourth and Gay delivered a sacrifice fly in the sixth for UMaine.

In Saturday’s opener, the Hawks scored in the seventh to force extra innings, but UMaine ended it in the eighth.

Justin Leiseinheimer led off the inning with a single to right-center, Sam Balzano of Portland walked, then Troy Black hit into a fielder’s choice. That brought up Fransoso, who pulled a ball over the right-field fence to provide the winning margin.

Calbick rapped a double and two singles and Patzalek doubled and singled for the Bears. Connolly (4-5) picked up the win in relief of starter Steve Perakslis, allowing only one hit in 1⅔ innings.

Alex Bulger collected a double and two singles to pace Hartford, while James Alfonso doubled and singled.

Hartford tied it in the seventh inning. Alfonso doubled and Perakslis got the first out, but was lifted in favor of Connolly. Bulger stroked an RBI double and, after a wild pitch and an intentional walk, Connolly retired the next two batters to force extra innings.

Drexel hit an RBI single during Hartford’s two-run first inning, which included a three-base error by center fielder Gay.

The Bears got a run back in the fifth when Fransoso walked, stole second and rode home Patzalek’s two-out double down the left-field line.

UMaine went on top 3-2 in the sixth when Calbick singled and Whitten reached on an error. Leisenheimer bunted the runners over, then Balzano walked to set up Black’s two-run single to center.

Barnes allowed five hits and three runs in absorbing the loss.

In Game 2, sophomore right-hander Shaun Coughlin (4-4) pitched a four-hitter to help complete the sweep. The right-hander struck out eight, walked one and hit a batter, allowing only three hits.

Fransoso homered and singled to pace the offense, and Black provided two singles among nine hits.

Kudernatsch led Hartford with two singles, while Drexel provided an RBI single. Starter Hunter Englehart (1-9) allowed six hits and four runs in three innings.

The Bears jumped on top 1-0 in the second on back-to-back doubles by Scott Heath of Westbrook and Calbick. UMaine scored twice in the third on Gay’s run-scoring single and a Patzalek sacrifice fly.

The visitors then made it 6-0 in the fourth when Ian Leisenheimer and Brian Doran singled, setting the tone for for Fransoso’s one-out, three-run home run to right.

Hartford scratched out its run in the bottom of the frame. Kudernatsch singled with one out and raced home on Drexel’s two-out double.

Patzalek added another sacrifice fly in the sixth inning for UMaine.

UMaine plays its final nonleague game of the season Tuesday against Boston College at Hadlock Field in Portland.

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