June 20, 2018
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Fransoso hit in eye by pitch; UMaine baseball team beats Boston College

By Pete Warner, BDN Staff

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Mike Fransoso realizes his baseball career could have ended Tuesday afternoon.

The University of Maine senior is counting his blessings after he was hit in the right eye by a pitch during the first inning of the Black Bears’ game against Boston College.

The left-handed hitting Fransoso suffered cuts to his cheek and nose when he was struck in his prescription glasses by a pitch thrown by Eagles lefty Andrew Chin.

“It was actually a really scary moment for me,” Fransoso said after he arrived in his native Portsmouth, N.H., with his parents after UMaine’s 9-7 victory.

Fransoso said Chin threw a fastball that started over the middle of the plate but ran back in on him. He wasn’t able to react in time to avoid being hit.

“When I went down, I saw the blood coming out. My first thought was, was my eyeball in there?”

The blood was from the cuts, which resulted from the impact of the ball driving the lens and the nosepiece into Fransoso’s face. He credits the eyewear with possibly saving his vision — and his career.

Having experienced comfort issues with his contact lenses, he was fitted last winter for prescription sports glasses that featured Oakley frames.

“I’m very lucky, extremely grateful that I was wearing those,” Fransoso said. “I could be blind. There’s a ball mark on my lens where it hit.”

Fransoso is the Bears’ leading hitter at .358 and ranks first on the team in hits (67), runs batted in (43), stolen bases (19) and runs scored (41).

He initially wanted to stay in the game, but suffered significant swelling in addition to the cuts. Fransoso said he plans to see his eye doctor Wednesday morning to make sure there is no damage to the eye itself.

After that, he would like to try and play in the 6 p.m. game against Holy Cross at Goodall Park in Sanford.

“I always want to try to find a way on the field,” Fransoso said, admitting he is likely to face opposition from Maine head coach Steve Trimper and athletic trainer Amy Adamo. “Hopefully, at least by this weekend.”

Fransoso, who said he has been hit in the helmet by pitches during his career, is anxious to get back in the lineup again to help the Black Bears during their stretch run as the America East tournament begins May 22.

In the meantime, he’ll have to order a new lens — since the ball mark is imprinted on the old one.

In Tuesday’s game, Jake Marks pitched 6⅓ strong innings and received ample offensive support as UMaine beat Boston College.

Marks, a freshman right-hander, improved to 4-0. He gave up only six hits and three runs and walked three as the Black Bears (32-19) earned their third straight win.

UMaine collected 14 hits, including three from Shane Bussey. The freshman was scheduled to play second base, but moved to shortstop in the first inning after Fransoso was hit.

Bussey enjoyed his best day so far as a collegian. The freshman from Boynton Beach, Fla., went 3-for-3 and reached base five times. The switch hitter hit a two-run home run, the first of his career, in the ninth to provide the eventual margin of victory.

Bussey also posted two singles and another RBI.

“He had some good swings, three RBIs,” Trimper said. “Lefty, he had two hits, the home run, and righty he had the two-out RBI. It was nice to see.”

The Bears also received three hits from Alex Calbick, who stroked a double and two singles and drove in two runs. He is three doubles shy of Mark Sweeney’s UMaine single-season record of 22.

Colin Gay doubled and singled with two RBIs, Fran Whitten doubled and singled and Eric White of Brewer singled and knocked in two runs.

Relievers D.J. Voisine and Burk FitzPatrick surrendered five hits and four runs in the last 2⅔ innings.

Joe Cronin doubled and singled to pace Boston College (11-38), which got two singles and an RBI from Gabriel Hernandez and two singles each from Balke Butera and Stephen Sauter. Matt Pare rapped a three-run double among the Eagles’ 11 hits.

Jay Jeannotte gave up two hits and one run in the third inning and suffered the loss.

Leading 1-0, UMaine scored three runs in the fifth inning en route to a 7-0 advantage.

Bussey started the fifth with a single, but was erased on Gay’s fielder’s choice. Sam Balzano of Portland reached on an error, then Brenden Geary walked to load the bases.

Calbick plated the first two runs with a single to center, then White provided a sacrifice fly.

Gay rapped a run-scoring single in the sixth to score Scott Heath of Westbrook (leadoff double), then White and Bussey hit RBI singles in the seventh.

Boston College scored seven runs in the last three innings, but came up short.

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