ORONO, Maine — Stony Brook University demonstrated Saturday why it is the favorite to win the America East baseball championship.
The Seawolves erased a seven-run deficit, scoring nine runs in the final two innings of the second game to pull out a 10-9 victory over the University of Maine and complete a four-game sweep at Mahaney Diamond.
Stony Brook won the opener 7-2.
“That was some kind of win. To do what we did in the last two innings says a lot about who we’ve got in this dugout,” said SBU junior Maxx Tissenbaum. “We’ve got a lot of guys who want to win and will do anything not to lose.”
Top-seeded Stony Brook (43-11, 21-3 AE), which had already clinched the regular-season title, hosts the four-team, double-elimination America East Baseball Championship starting Wednesday at Joe Nathan Field.
The Seawolves square off against coach Steve Trimper’s No. 4 Black Bears (26-26, 11-11 AE) Wednesday afternoon in a first-round game.
The Black Bears were disappointed about the finish to the regular season.
“We gave that last game away, which is a shame,” said senior co-captain Justin Leiseinheimer. “We would have liked to go out on a high note at Mahaney, but there’s really nothing we can do about it now. We’ve got to flush it and go down there and take care of business.”
UMaine was poised to salvage the series finale behind a strong pitching start from D.J. Voisine and an 18-hit assault. It came unraveled in the last two innings.
“I’ve never experienced something like that in my life,” Trimper said of the collapse.
“Unfortunately, going into the conference tournament, that wasn’t the way to do it,” he added.
Stony Brook won despite sitting three productive starters in Willi Carmona, Travis Jankowski and Tanner Nivins.
Stony Brook began its surge after UMaine scored four times in the seventh to take an 8-1 lead. The visitors knocked out Voisine, then greeted reliever Scott Heath of Westbrook with Cole Peragine’s RBI double and a two-run home run by Kevin Courtney.
The Bears countered with a run in the bottom of the inning on Alex Calbick’s solo homer, but the Seawolves weren’t done.
In the ninth, Heath walked the leadoff batter, then Fran Whitten came on and walked the next two men to load the bases. Lefthander Jon Balentina (3-2) struck out the next two batters, but Peragine grounded a two-run single back through the middle to make it 9-8.
That brought up Maxx Tissenbaum, whose sinking line drive to left glanced off the glove of left fielder Sam Balzano of Portland, allowing the tying and go-ahead runs to score.
“You can’t make mistakes, that’s the bottom line,” said UMaine’s Mike Fransoso. “You can’t walk guys, you can’t make errors.”
UMaine threatened in the ninth against Matt Gallup (4-0). Fransoso grounded a one-out single to right and took third on Colin Gay’s hit-and-run single to right.
Gallup got Tyler Patzalak to ground into a game-ending 1-4-3 double play.
“You have a seven-run lead with four outs to get. It can’t happen,” Trimper said, noting the walks and the dropped fly ball.
“We can’t play in the conference tournament like that. We’ll be two-and-out real quick,” he added.
Peragine and Tissenbaum each provided another single and Courtney also stroked an RBI double for Stony Brook.
Gallup gave up five hits but only one run in 2 1/3 innings of relief.
Fransoso drilled a two-run homer and a double for the Bears, while Gay and Calbick each notched two more singles. Troy Black and Leisenheimer doubled and singled with two RBIs and Heath had two singles and an RBI.
Leisenheimer stole home as part of a delayed double steal with Black in the fifth inning.
Voisine gave up six hits and four runs with two walks, two strikeouts and a hit batter.
“I just stuck with my two-seam [fastball], that kind of dove a little bit, and my cutter, which moved a lot,” said Voisine, whose back tightened up during a long wait in the bottom of the seventh.
“Toward the end there, I couldn’t really bend and finish pitches.”
In the opener, SBU senior righthander Evan Stecko-Haley (7-3) limited the Bears to five hits in 6 1/3 innings and received ample offensive support.
Carmona paced the Seawolves with a two-run home run in the first inning, along with a double in the fifth and an RBI double in his team’s three-run seventh that broke the game open.
Jankowski doubled and singled for the winners, while Courtney lined a solo homer and drew a bases-loaded walk.
Fransoso led UMaine with a double, a single and a run scored. Calbick provided an double in the first.
Starter Mike Connolly (4-6), who threw 114 pitches Wednesday against Boston College, allowed four hits, three walks and hit a batter Saturday. He gave up three runs in 3 1/3 innings.
Whitten surrendered five hits and four runs in 3 2/3 innings of relief, with three of those runs coming in the seventh.
Stony Brook took the lead for good (3-2) in the second inning when Courtney roped a 3-2 Connolly pitch over the right-field fence.
The visitors made it 4-2 in the fifth on a two-out, RBI single to center field by Steven Goldstein.
UMaine had a good threat in the fifth when Leisenheimer walked and Fransoso singled with one out. However, Stecko-Haley induced a fielder’s choice grounder off the bat of Gay and got Patzalek to fly out to right.
The Seawolves scored three times in the seventh, an uprising that included Carmona’s RBI double to right and Tissenbaum’s run-scoring fielder’s choice.