ALBANY, N.Y. — Mike Connolly finally got some runs to work with Sunday afternoon.
The University of Maine baseball team scored four times in the first inning, providing the junior right-hander with ample offensive support on its way to a 7-3 victory over Albany in the finale of their three-game America East series at Varsity Field.
Coach Steve Trimper’s Black Bears (29-18, 16-7 AE) took two of three games in the series, winning Saturday’s first game 8-6 before the Great Danes (21-19-1, 14-10 AE) won the second game 4-3.
UMaine extended its advantage in the league standings to 2 1/2 games over Albany and is three games ahead of Binghamton (13-10 AE).
On Sunday, six players drove in a run as the Bears supported Connolly, who had worked 18 consecutive innings without UMaine scoring a run on his behalf.
Connolly (5-3) allowed three runs on three hits in six innings, striking out four. He walked six and hit a batter. D.J. Voisine pitched two scoreless innings and Shaun Coughlin gave up only a hit in the ninth to close out the win.
Mike Fransoso paced the offense with a double, two singles and an RBI. Scott Heath of Westbrook doubled and singled with an RBI, while Troy Black (RBI) and Eric White of Brewer each singled twice among 14 hits.
Fran Whitten hit a solo home run for the Bears.
Albany starter Stephen Carey (1-1) surrendered six hits and four runs in one inning and took the loss. Nolan Gaige hit two singles and drove in a run.
UMaine started quickly in the first inning. Sam Balzano of Portland led off with a single, then stole second with one out and took third on an error. Fransoso followed with a run-scoring single.
Alex Calbick singled, before a run scored on a wild pitch. White singled and Heath then delivered a run-scoring single. Jonathan Salcedo capped the uprising with an RBI single.
Black had an RBI single in the third, then Whitten homered and Colin Gay provided an RBI single in the eighth.
UMaine travels to Vestal, N.Y., next weekend for a three-game series at Binghamton.
On Saturday, White hit an RBI triple to left-center field to highlight a three-run seventh inning, lifting UMaine to an 8-6 victory in the first game.
The Bears worked around a spotty outing by junior right-hander Tommy Lawrence (9-2), who registered his eighth consecutive victory. He allowed six hits and struck out seven, but walked one and hit three batters.
White also contributed two singles for UMaine, which received a triple, a single and two RBIs from Gay and a triple, a single and an RBI from Calbick.
Fransoso and Brian Doran each added two singles and drove in a run among 14 hits for the Bears.
Brian Bullard posted two singles and an RBI to support relief loser Kevin Archbold (1-2). Gordon Madej doubled and knocked in two runs for Albany.
The Bears broke a 5-5 tie with three runs in the seventh. Fransoso led off with a single, moved up on Calbick’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Doran’s single. White followed with a run-scoring triple to left-center, then Kyle Silva provided a pinch-hit RBI double.
In the second game, the Great Danes rode the three-hit pitching of Austin Chase to a 4-3 win. The righty scattered three hits, struck out three, walked one and hit two batters while going the distance.
UMaine managed only an RBI double by Calbick, a double by Balzano and Black’s single. Fransoso and Whitten had run-scoring groundouts but the Bears left only two men on base.
Senior A.J. Bazdanes (5-5) suffered his second straight loss. He surrendered 12 hits with two strikeouts, a walk and a hit batter.
Albany scored the eventual game-winner in the seventh inning. Madej singled up the middle and Josh Nethaway was hit by a pitch.
One out later, D.J. Hoagboon stroked an RBI double to left, chasing Bazdanes. Burk FitzPatrick escaped further damage.
Nethaway led the Great Danes with a double and two singles, while Madej had another single. Matt Hinchy (RBI) and Craig Lepre each singled twice.