ORONO, Maine — As Stony Brook carries the America East Conference banner to Omaha, Neb., for the College World Series, members of the University of Maine baseball team have headed to their summer assignments.
Coach Steve Trimper’s Black Bears have lost two players to the pro ranks after the signing of Steve Perakslis. The junior righthander from Abington, Mass., joined former UMaine classmate Jeff Gibbs in signing a contract recently.
Perakslis has reported to Mesa, Ariz., where he has joined the Chicago Cubs’ organization. The Cubs drafted the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder last week in the 21st round (No. 644 overall).
Perakslis had a 5-5 record with a 3.81 earned run average this spring. He allowed 109 hits and struck out 48 in 87⅓ innings. Opponents batted .318 against him.
Gibbs, selected in the ninth round by the Arizona Diamondbacks, signed June 6 and also has relocated to Arizona for his pro indoctrination.
Trimper is awaiting a decision from Canadian pitcher Dayton Dawe, who in November signed a National Letter of Intent to attend UMaine next fall. Dawe, the No. 3 overall prospect in Canada, is entertaining an offer from the New York Yankees, who picked him in the 15th round during last week’s draft.
UMaine players will be scattered across the Northeast this summer, with as many as six vying for spots in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League.
Summer ball is played with wooden bats, in contrast to the composite bats used during the college season.
Infielder Mike Fransoso, who will be a senior next season, and junior Alex Calbick have signed with the Chatham Anglers, while junior transfer pitcher Tommy Lawrence is on a temporary contract with the Anglers.
Junior outfielder Colin Gay is trying to make the Harwich Mariners roster while junior pitcher Sean Coughlin and Mike Connolly are working to stick with the Falmouth Commodores.
“The summer is to get them more experience, more at-bats and more confidence,” Trimper said. “Having these guys play every day builds their strength.”
Troy Black, a junior second baseman, will team up with former UMaine star and pitching coach Aaron Izaryk, who is the manager of the Sanford Mainers of the New England Collegiate Baseball League. Junior catcher and designated hitter Fran Whitten is with Keene (N.H.) of the NECBL.
Other Black Bears will spend their summers in Maine, including sophomores Sam Balzano of Portland and Steve Trask of Saco, who have hooked on with Old Orchard Beach of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League. Sophomores Scott Heath of Westbrook and Brian Doran have joined the Amsterdam Mohawks of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League.
Senior catcher Tyler Patzalek is playing in his native Ontario, Nick Bernardo and Garrett Bernard are planning to play in the New York Collegiate Baseball League and Manny Pupo is in a Florida summer league.
Sophomore pitcher Luke Morrill of South Thomaston is sitting out because of an arm ailment and junior D.J. Voisine is taking the summer off to rest his arm.
Trimper explained the summer playing time is particularly important for some of the younger team members who didn’t see as much game action with the Bears during the college season.
Trimper in the last few years has predicted the America East champ could make a strong showing in the NCAA tournament. He admits he never expected the kind of run Stony Brook has made.
The Seawolves are headed to the College World Series after beating Louisiana State University in a Super Regional at Baton Rouge.
“It’s awesome. It’s great for our conference,” Trimper said. “People look at us as a small conference, but we play a good brand of baseball.”
Stony Brook is the first team from the Northeast to reach the CWS since UMaine did it in 1986 — when the road to Omaha was considerably easier.
The publicity and respect earned by Stony Brook will have implications not only for its own program, but for the league as a whole.
“You want a national presence for our conference and we’ve been one of the sports that has won games in the [NCAA] tournament the last few years,” said Trimper, who said the Seawolves are tremendously talented and had good fortune in avoiding injuries.
UMaine’s league title and an NCAA regional victory in 2011 boosted its recruiting and Stony Brook’s success will benefit the Bears and the other AE programs.
“It helps out recruiting because kids want to play in your conference,” Trimper said. “It’s going to give us all more notoriety.”
It provides a shot in the arm for Northeast programs, which spend the winter indoors and deal with poor early-season field conditions. It forces them to play their first 25 games or so on the road, but provides the opportunity to face some top-level teams.
That experience helps prepare teams like Stony Brook to face national-caliber programs in hostile playoff environments.
“That’s really difficult to do, to go win a Regional and then a Super Regional,” Trimper said. “It’s a great story when a team like Stony Brook can put it all together.
“Don’t be surprised if Stony Brook goes out there and wins a couple games, or even wins the whole thing.”