ORONO, Maine —- After losing the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader to Binghamton, the University of Maine softball team knew it had to win the nightcap to keep its slim America East playoff hopes alive.
Black Bear senior right-hander Hannah Hill got off to an inauspicious start in game two as two walks and three wild pitches produced a first-inning run. But she settled down and blanked the league’s best-hitting team the rest of the way en route to a 3-1 triumph at Kessock Field.
Binghamton won the opener 5-3 on sophomore right fielder Sydney Harbaugh’s two-run home run in the seventh inning.
Hill returned to the circle on Sunday to lead Maine to a 3-2 victory in 10 innings as she went the final eight innings while giving up one run and eight hits with eight strikeouts.
Maine (17-17, 8-9 AE) snapped a four-game losing streak on Saturday while Binghamton is now 20-21 overall and 9-5 in AE.
Overcast skies gave way to steady rain in Saturday’s nightcap but Hill weathered the precipitation and finished with a four-hitter. She struck out four and walked four while throwing 112 pitches, 64 for strikes.
“I did alright,” Hill said. “I hit most of my spots. The team played great defense behind me.
“At the beginning of the game, I was a little wild. Part of it was the rain. One of the great parts about team sports is your teammates can pick you up and they did by scoring some runs,” added Hill. “[Catcher] Rachel [Harvey] did a great job behind the plate. We work well together.”
“Her changeup was effective and she threw me outside a lot,” said lefthanded-hitting Binghamton senior left fielder Colleen Dougherty, who lined out twice.
Coach Lynn Coutts’ Black Bears answered Binghamton’s run with one in the bottom of the first when Samantha Ralphs walked and Jessica Burk walloped a long double to left off an 0-2 pitch.
“It was a little high but I was just trying to protect the plate and get a good piece of it and I did,” said Burk.
Maine broke the tie in the second when Harvey was hit by a pitch and eventually scored on Kristen Koslosky’s two-out, line-drive single to right-center.
“I had been struggling and I wanted to pick it up for my team and help us build a little momentum,” said Koslosky. “She [losing pitcher Annika Wiesinger] was pitching me outside all the time so I stayed on it and drove it up the middle.”
Maine added an insurance run off Shelby Donhauser in the fifth.
Felicia Lennon ripped a 2-2 changeup to left for a base hit and continued to third when left fielder Harbaugh missed played it. She scored when Burk grounded into a fielder’s choice to second.
There were no repeat hitters. Besides Burk, Maine’s EmJ Fogel had the game’s only other extra-base hit as she doubled in the third.
In the opener, Harbaugh launched her fourth homer of the season to right-center with one out in the seventh off Alexis Bogdanovich to snap a 3-3 tie.
“She had been pitching me outside so I moved up on the plate and hoped she would get the ball over the plate and she did,” said Harbaugh, the league’s fourth-leading hitter (.370).
“It was a curve and as soon as I let go of it, I wanted it back,” said Bogdanovich.
Binghamton coach Michelle Burrell pointed out that Harbaugh, “was a slap hitter last year but she has worked a lot on her power and has done a great job in the leadoff spot.”
Binghamton took a 2-0 lead in the second on Taylor Chaffee’s single and RBI doubles by Lisa Cadogan and Caitlyn Friis.
Maine scored three in the bottom of the second on singles by Fogel and Jean Stevens, a fielder’s choice, a double steal that produced a run, a run-scoring throwing error and Koslosky’s RBI infield single.
Harbaugh’s triple and Gabby Bracchi’s single tied it in the third.
Demi Laney (13-8), who said she got “more spin on my curve” after Maine’s three-run second inning, went the distance, allowing four hits with 11 strikeouts and two walks.
Harbaugh (homer, triple), Cadogan (two doubles) and Friis (double, single) paced Binghamton while Fogel had two singles for Maine. Bogdanovich allowed nine hits and five runs with nine strikeouts and no walks in a complete-game performance.
On Sunday, Fogel drove a double to left to score Koslosky in the 10th in Maine’s America East finale.
Fogel finished with two hits while driving in all three Maine runs while Koslosky added two hits.
After Binghamton scored in the first, the Bears answered when Fogel’s triple plated Koslosky.
The Bearcats grabbed the lead once again, but Maine knotted the score with a run in the bottom of the sixth after Lennon doubled and later scored on Fogel’s groundout to third.