ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine baseball team scored only two runs and had just seven hits in a nonconference doubleheader against the New York Institute of Technology Friday night.
Usually, that would mean you got swept.
But the Black Bears, who have scored three runs or less 20 times this season, received back-to-back shutouts from senior right-handers Tommy Lawrence and Shaun Coughlin and received clutch hits from seniors Alex Calbick and Colin Gay to emerge with a pair of 1-0 wins over youthful NYIT at Mahaney Diamond.
Maine snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 16-22 while NYIT fell to 3-35. The teams will play single games Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
In the nightcap, Coughlin outdueled sophomore J.P. Lipovac, hurling a three-hitter with a career-best nine strikeouts and two walks.
Lipovac threw a four-hitter with four strikeouts and a walk.
“I just tried to keep my team in the ballgame,” said Coughlin (3-4). “My fastball was my go-to pitch and my breaking pitches (curve and slider) finally worked well so I was able to keep their hitters off-balance.”
The visiting Bears never got a runner past second and had only two reach second.
Maine scored its run in the fourth when Nick Bernardo reached on Lipovac’s only walk with one out and scored when Gay blasted a long double over left fielder Frank Sanacore’s head.
“It was a 1-0 fastball. I was looking for a fastball,” said Gay, who had a single to go with his double and was the game’s only repeat hitter.
“We set up away (outside) but it came back over the plate and he got a good piece of it,” said Lipovac.
In the opener, the Black Bears managed just three hits off junior right-hander John Duggan but two of those hits came in the sixth inning and produced the run.
Lawrence (5-4) scattered five hits and struck out a career-high 14.
Calbick drove in the run as he lined a two-out single to center on a 2-2 pitch to deliver Troy Black from second. Black had reached on an infield single to the shortstop hole and was sacrificed to second by Brian Doran.
“I was just trying to put the ball in play and get the runner home. He threw me a curve down the middle and, luckily, I got a hit and scored the run,” said Calbick.
Despite the 14 strikeouts, the shutout didn’t come easy, as Lawrence had to continually pitch out of jams.
NYIT had seven baserunners but went 0-for-11 with men on base and stranded five in scoring position.
“I get more focused with men on base,” said Lawrence, who featured a fastball, curve and slider. “The way the game was going, I knew it was going to be a 1-0 game.”
He threw 106 pitches, of which 72 were strikes. He walked one.
“I threw a lot of fastballs early in the game because I had trouble getting on top of my slider. My fastball flattened out later in the game but my slider came along,” added Lawrence, who stranded runners on second and third in the third and fourth innings.
Matt DiBiase rifled a double off the left-field fence to start the third. But Frank Sanacore lined to center and Joe Daru struck out before a walk and a passed ball put runners on second and third. Lawrence then struck out Joshua Canabal.
In the fourth, Sebastian singled and Lawrence hesitated and threw late to second on Louis Mele’s sacrifice bunt. But Lawrence struck out Anthony Martelli, got Laurent Polenghi on a grounder to second and struck out DiBiase.
Duggan, who had a herky-jerky, three-quarter-arm delivery, also turned in an outstanding performance.
Duggan struck out three and walked one while throwing 82 pitches, 50 for strikes.
Sebastian was the game’s only repeat hitter with his double and two singles.
“We were just one hit away (in each game),” said Sebastian, who noted that Lawrence had a “good, running fastball” and Coughlin “used his curve a lot.”
Maine catcher Jonathan Salcedo said all four pitchers threw well.
“Tommy and Shaun had their pitches going. Both had their sliders working,” said Salcedo. “Their pitchers had two pitches going and they threw a lot of first-pitch strikes to us.”
NYIT coach Bob Malvagna said he was very pleased with his pitchers but said his team “didn’t make enough contact or move runners.” They struck out 23 times.
Maine coach Steve Trimper said, “We got great pitching and great defense” to go with the two timely hits.