ORONO, Maine — Scott Heath and the University of Maine baseball team appear to be getting hot at exactly the right time.
The junior from Westbrook went 7-for-8 with nine runs batted in and six runs scored on Friday, spearheading the Black Bears’ America East baseball sweep of the University of Maryland Baltimore County at Mahaney Diamond.
UMaine won the opener 17-0, then took an 8-4 decision in the nightcap. With the wind blowing out to right field, the Bears belted five home runs.
In the opener, the left-handed-hitting Heath cranked a grand slam and three singles among UMaine’s 21 hits and drove in seven runs.
In Game 2, he stroked two solo home runs and a single and scored three more runs.
“I think the pressure’s kind of off us right now,” Heath said. “Before, we weren’t hitting the ball well and everyone was trying to do too much. Now, once one person gets a big hit, it’s kind of flowing through the team.”
Coach Steve Trimper’s Black Bears (24-26, 10-10 AE) close out the regular season, weather permitting, with Saturday’s 1 p.m. single game against UMBC (16-29, 6-17 AE). UMaine will honor its eight seniors prior to the contest.
“They did a good job of hunting fastballs and we hit some breaking balls,” Trimper said. “We really saw pitches that were up (in the strike zone).”
In Friday’s first game, UMaine scored in seven straight innings while touching off its biggest offensive explosion of the season.
Senior right-handers Tommy Lawrence and Shaun Coughlin scattered seven hits to combine on the shutout. Lawrence (8-4) pitched six innings of five-hit ball with two strikeouts and a walk, while Coughlin (save) worked three innings and allowed two hits, fanning three.
“We’re finally swinging the bats a little bit, scoring a lot of runs,” Lawrence said.
Luke Morrill of South Thomaston churned out four hits in the opener, including a three-run home run and three singles (one for an RBI) for UMaine. Troy Black (home run), Alex Calbick (2 doubles) and Sam Balzano each racked up three hits, with Calbick adding an RBI.
Brian Doran had two singles and two RBIs while Morrill and Balzano each scored three times.
“We’re definitely the type of team that just feeds off each other,” said Morrill, who has surged gradually since becoming the starting third baseman two weeks ago. “Once one guy does well, it’s going to go down (the lineup) from there.”
Mark Esposito singled twice for UMBC. Starter Mac Gill (1-7) was lit up for 16 hits and 11 runs in only five innings.
Black got things started for the Bears, leading off the second inning by drilling a homer over the fence in right field.
UMaine batted around in the third, which featured Heath’s blast out onto the soccer practice field, well beyond the fence in right field, for a grand slam.
“I’m not trying to do too much,” Heath said. “It’s really paying off for me.”
Calbick’s double and consecutive singles by Black and Doran (RBI), which extended a string of consecutive hits to seven in the inning, made it 6-0.
Heath laced a two-run single in the fifth and Morrill launched a three-run blast to right-center in the sixth.
In Game 2, Heath again led the charge, although the Bears managed only seven hits.
He homered in the first, singled and scored during a four-run third inning that provided a four-run cushion, then belted a solo shot to spark a two-run fifth. Heath also added a single.
“It’s just one of those days. Everything happened the right way for me,” Heath said.
Doran hit an RBI single in the third and Black had a run-scoring hit in the fifth.
Lefty Heath (3-2) also pitched the first four innings, allowing four hits and two runs with three strikeouts and two walks. Freshman Jeff Gelinas of Saco worked the last three innings for his first save.
Doran doubled, singled and knocked in two runs and Black provided a sacrifice fly and a run-scoring single.
“The wind was blowing out, so our left-handers were able to get a couple balls elevated and really had the ball jump,” Trimper said.
Andrew Casali led UMBC with two hits, including an inside-the-park home run, and D.J. Smith singled twice with an RBI. Mark Esposito added a solo homer.