ORONO, Maine — Jeff Gelinas of Saco turned in a stellar pitching performance for the University of Maine on Monday afternoon.
The Black Bears were unable to support him with adequate offensive production.
Hartford reached reliever Jacob Gosselin-Deschesnes for runs in the eighth and ninth innings to complete a sweep of the three-game America East baseball series with a 2-1 victory at Mahaney Diamond.
Freshman David Drouin worked seven innings of six-hit ball and the bullpen put up two more zeroes as the Hawks (16-10, 6-2 AE), who have won five straight in the series, moved into first place.
Drouin struck out seven and walked one, mixing a fastball and a curveball.
“He was throwing his offspeed [pitch] for strikes later in the game,” said junior Sam Balzano of Portland, who drove in UMaine’s only run with a single in the second inning. “We were able to get him in that second inning, but other than that he was throwing strikes and we couldn’t really do anything with it.”
The offensive struggles continued for coach Steve Trimper’s UMaine squad (9-19 ,1-5 AE), which has dropped five consecutive conference games and sits in last place.
“I can’t really put my finger on it, but we’ve got to get the bats going,” said Trimper, whose team is scheduled to face Thomas College at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Mahaney.
“We had a couple of good swings early and then we just didn’t find barrels,” he added. “When we hit something hard, we hit it right at them.”
It marked the third time in three years that the Black Bears have been swept in an America East home series.
Hartford’s Sam McKay (4-1) pitched a perfect eighth and Alex Gouin worked around a two-out error and a walk in the ninth for his seventh save. Hartford’s bullpen held UMaine to two hits and no runs in 6⅔ innings during the series.
Gelinas turned in his best performance to date in his third collegiate start. The freshman right-hander stepped in after Scott Heath was scratched after fouling a ball off his right foot on Sunday.
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Gelinas pitched 4⅔ hitless innings and afforded the Hawks only two singles in his stint. He struck out seven and hit a batter, throwing 102 pitches.
Billy Walker broke up Gelinas’ no-hit bid with a single to center field.
“This is definitely the most important game I’ve been in so far, so it’s good to get this one under my belt, get some experience in conference play,” said Gelinas, who is a product of Thornton Academy.
“Mostly it was just locating fastballs and then, once you get ahead, come at them with offspeed stuff,” he said of his slider.
Hartford capitalized when Gosselin-Deschesnes came on to start the eighth. Chris DelDebbio laced a leadoff triple down the right-field line and scored on Brian Estevez’s successful safety squeeze bunt on the next pitch to make it 1-1.
The Hawks plated the game-winner in the ninth. Brady Sheetz sliced a double down the line in right to open the inning and scored on James Alfonso’s one-out double to left.
“That was the difference today,” Trimper said of the Hawks’ bullpen.
“[Gosselin-Deschesnes has] got a sub-2 (1.27) ERA and he’s done a good job and that’s his role on the team is to come in and hold the lead,” Trimper said.
Sheetz also added a single for Hartford, which finished with five hits.
UMaine, which did not have an extra-base hit in the series, went 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position.
The Bears took a 1-0 lead in the second inning after two were out. Shane Bussey pulled a single through the right side, Jonathan Salcedo fisted a single to left and Balzano stroked a single up the middle.
Drouin got Colin Gay to ground out to escape further damage.
In the first inning, UMaine received singles from Gay and Heath, but Gay was quickly doubled off on Troy Black’s soft liner to second base.
“Yeah, we’re frustrated,” said Balzano. “We’re not worried, though. It’s not going to take long for us to get things going. I think we’re going to be fine.”