ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine coaching staff may have some tougher decisions to make next weekend in regard to its pitching rotation.
And it’s a good thing.
Jeff Gelinas of Saco got everyone’s attention on Monday when he shut out Hartford for seven innings and allowed only two hits in a 2-1 loss at Mahaney Diamond.
With junior left-hander Scott Heath of Westbrook hobbled by a sore foot, the freshman right-hander turned in a dominating performance against the Hawks.
“What he did [Monday] was remarkable,” said UMaine head coach Steve Trimper. “He went out there, threw strikes, didn’t walk anybody.”
The former Thornton Academy star had limited Florida Atlantic to five hits and two runs (one earned) in a March 11 start. This time, he was almost unhittable.
Gelinas did not allow a baserunner until Billy Walker hit a two-out single in the fifth inning. He gave up only one other hit and finished with seven strikeouts and hit batter.
“I felt like I had a lot of velocity on my fastball coming out, so that was definitely my go-to pitch,” said Gelinas, a 6-foot-4, 200-pounder who Trimper confirmed is UMaine’s hardest thrower, in the low-to-mid 90s.
It was only the third start among 10 appearances for Gelinas, who lowered his earned run average to 3.13 but did not get a decision.
“You have to be confident to be able to that kind of stuff,” he said, “but having been put in the situation [and] being able to do what I did [Monday] is definitely good for me going forward, I think, mentally.”
Gelinas appears to have served notice that he is capable of contributing among a front-line group of Black Bear pitchers that includes Tommy Lawrence, Shaun Coughlin and Heath.
“He’s going to be a shut-down guy, there’s no question,” Trimper said. “We’re excited about that for the future.”
UMaine pitchers went 0-3 after combining to allow only 16 hits and 10 runs in 27 innings against Hartford (3.33 ERA). The Bears had eight walks, five of which came around to score in Sunday’s doubleheader.
The Bears experienced a dreadful offensive series, going 15-for-92 for a .163 batting average. They scored only six runs in the three games.
“There’s some guys pressing, there’s no doubt about it,” Trimper said of the offensive woes.
UMaine did not have many big rallies and wound up going 2-for-20 while grounding into three double plays with runners in scoring position.
“In baseball, you’ve just got to get timely hitting,” said junior Sam Balzano of Portland.
UM’s Jones honored
UMaine equipment manager Steve Jones, decked out in his usual shorts, was honored prior to Monday’s UMaine-Hartford baseball game.
Jones was presented with the 2014 Al Card Sportsmanship Award by the umpiring crew, which included Gardiner native Jeff Mertzel.
The man known to most Black Bear athletes and staff members only as “Jonesy” accepted a plaque at home plate and received a nice ovation from the crowd.
The award, given by the Collegiate Baseball Umpires Association of Maine, is named after one of the group’s charter members and is given to someone who “has shown professionalism, enthusiasm and dedication on and off the baseball diamond, as well as being an inspiration to coaches, players, umpires and the game of baseball in Maine.”