UMaine’s Fransoso healthy after injury, using sunglasses at America East tourney

Luke Morrill of South Thomaston chases down a ground ball while practicing in anticipation of Wednesday's America East tournament baseball game at Lowell, Mass.
Luke Morrill of South Thomaston chases down a ground ball while practicing in anticipation of Wednesday's America East tournament baseball game at Lowell, Mass. Buy Photo
Posted May 22, 2013, at 6:34 p.m.
Last modified May 22, 2013, at 8:40 p.m.
University of Maine players including Burk FitzPatrick (left) and Shane Bussey (9) go through a line of high-fives after taking infield practice prior to Wednesday's league playoff game at Lowell, Mass.
University of Maine players including Burk FitzPatrick (left) and Shane Bussey (9) go through a line of high-fives after taking infield practice prior to Wednesday's league playoff game at Lowell, Mass. Buy Photo
Scott Heath of Westbrook leaps to make a catch while warming up before the University of Maine's America East baseball tournament game Wednesday at Lowell, Mass.
Scott Heath of Westbrook leaps to make a catch while warming up before the University of Maine's America East baseball tournament game Wednesday at Lowell, Mass. Buy Photo

LOWELL, Mass. — Mike Fransoso of the University of Maine may be facing a dilemma Thursday night when the Black Bears play in the second round of the America East Baseball Championship at LeLacheur Park.

The senior shortstop said Wednesday he was seeing well eight days after being hit in the right eye by a pitch during a game at Boston College.

“The vision’s fine,” said the league player of the year, who singled twice and scored a run in UMaine’s 7-0 victory over Stony Brook.

However, since Thursday’s game will be at night, he has some eyewear issues with which to contend. Fransoso has only one pair of prescription sports glasses, and they are sunglasses.

“My regular prescription glasses, the clear lenses haven’t come in yet,” he said of the ones ordered to replace the lens damaged by the ball when he was struck.

“They’re still in California waiting to be shipped out. It’s either that [wear sunglasses] or the contacts and I haven’t worn contacts all year, so I figured I’d give the sunglasses a shot. It wasn’t too bad until the sixth inning when it started to get a little bit darker and I started to have a little trouble with it.”

SBU missing slugger

Stony Brook University was without its most productive offensive player during Wednesday’s tourney opener.

Junior first baseman Kevin Courtney reportedly suffered broken bones in his face last Friday when he was hit by a batted ball in the first game of their doubleheader against Hartford at West Hartford, Conn.

Courtney had earned All-America East first-team recognition in the league after batting .237 with a league-leading six home runs and 28 runs batted in, along with 13 doubles.

His absence takes considerable punch out of the Seawolves’ lineup.

Going natural

The Black Bears will be the first to admit they’re spoiled by being able to practice and play their home games on the FieldTurf at Mahaney Diamond in Orono.

UMaine, which has played numerous games on natural grass this season, will be doing so during the tournament.

LeLacheur Park is a regular grass and dirt facility, which is likely to present a few more challenges than the relatively predictable rolls and bounces of FieldTurf.

“It’s a good field, a really nice park,” Maine head coach Steve Trimper said before Wednesday’s game. “The infield’s a little bumpy, a little hard. There will be a couple errors in the infield, I think. It’s really fast.”

The Bears have now played eight of their last 11 games on natural grass after having played nine straight on turf. This season, UMaine has a 17-13 record when playing on grass.

Tourney tidbits

— UMaine enters the tournament as the No. 1 seed for the first time since 2004. That year, the conference tourney was held at Mahaney Diamond in Orono, where Stony Brook won the title.

— America East is using a predetermined neutral site for the baseball championship for the first time since 2001. That ended a string of five consecutive tournaments held at Blue Rock Stadium in Wilmington, Del.

— This year marks only the second time the America East championship has been contested in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The other came in 1994, when Northeastern University was the host team and won the championship.

— This also ends a series of six straight seasons in which the tournament had been held in New York. The last two were played at Joe Nathan Field on the campus of Stony Brook.

— Trimper’s selection as the America East Coach of the Year marks only the third time a UMaine coach has received the honor. Former coach Paul Kostacopoulos was the recipient in 1997 and 2001.

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