ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine-Farmington baseball team wouldn’t have been too disappointed if Mahaney Diamond had remained unplayable on Thursday afternoon.
The University of Maine desperately needed to play a game after having last weekend’s America East series against Hartford canceled because of field conditions.
Since the FieldTurf surface was clear of snow and ice, the Beavers took one for the (Division I) team.
Coach Steve Trimper’s Black Bears played their first game since March 23, posting a 10-1 victory over Division III UM-Farmington on a bright, 42-degree day.
“It was very important,” said senior shortstop Troy Black, who drove in two runs with a single and a groundout and scored twice for UMaine (9-16).
“Gearing up for Hartford … we needed to get out there and get a game in before we saw them,” he added.
The game, originally scheduled for Tuesday, put coach Chris Bessey’s Beavers (3-11) in a bind. UMF played a North Atlantic Conference doubleheader Wednesday at Husson and has a four-game league series against Castleton State scheduled for Friday and Saturday with two games each in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
“That will be our second seven-games-in-four-days stretch of the year, because we did it in Florida, too,” said Bessey, who juggled his lineup to find enough pitchers to face the Black Bears.
“Most of the guys we used were guys that are position players and do a little pitching as well,” he added.
UMaine did its best to take advantage of UMF’s second-tier pitchers. The Bears managed only nine hits, including eight singles, but did remain patient.
The hosts worked seven walks and three hit batsmen.
“We wanted to have that approach of being a little more patient and not try to get ourselves out [with overaggressive swings] but have some quality at-bats,” Trimper said.
UMaine, which practiced at Mahaney Diamond in a limited capacity on Tuesday and Wednesday, desperately needed to play.
“It’s just nice to play,” Trimper said. “We needed to get ourselves some kind of tune-up before getting into a very important weekend for ourselves.”
Sophomore Shane Bussey (double) and junior Sam Balzano of Portland provided two hits and an RBI each for UMaine and junior Brian Doran added a single, a sacrifice fly and two RBIs.
Starter Shaun Coughlin (2-2) earned the win with two scoreless innings, including four strikeouts. Luke Morrill of South Thomaston and Logan Fullmer each worked two innings.
Sophomore Tom Grady of Whitefield stroked three singles to pace the Beavers, while Grayson Beressi hit an RBI single.
“I wasn’t really thinking about it. I kind of went up there swinging,” Grady said. “I knew I had to be quick, because they’re good pitchers.”
Bessey said UMF, which committed four errors, was glad to be able to take on UMaine.
“It’s fun for the guys to come up and see baseball at the Division I level,” he said. “Coach Trimper does a great job up here, treats us really well.”
The Beavers departed Orono bound for Farmington, then were scheduled to depart for New Hampshire Thursday night in order to play Friday’s 9:30 a.m. twinbill at Rindge, N.H. Castleton’s field in Vermont is unplayable.
“It’s going to be tough,” Grady said.
UMaine scored all the runs it would need in the first inning.
Starter Ben Pearson (0-2), one of only two seniors and three upperclassmen on the UMF ballclub, surrendered a leadoff single to Colin Gay, then hit Black and Scott Heath of Westbrook with pitches.
Alex Calbick walked to force in a run, Doran delivered a sac fly and a balk produced another run. Pearson walked Steven Adam and Bussey to re-load the bases, then was lifted.
“We struggled throwing strikes there to start, but that’s going to happen when guys don’t throw a lot,” Bessey offered.
Jonathan Salcedo added a sac fly to make it 4-0.
The Bears scored one run in the second, then two each in the third and fourth to build a commanding 9-1 lead.
UMF scored in the fourth against Luke Morrill. Ben Keene of Livermore reached on a throwing error with one out and scored after singles by Grady and Beressi.