March 29, 2020
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UMaine eager to play after weekend woes

The University of Maine baseball team is coming off a frustrating five-day road trip.

Rain and poor field conditions led to two straight days of postponements, a long commute from a Connecticut hotel back to Staten Island early Monday for makeup games, a game cancellation and a final, unscheduled stop in Rhode Island on Tuesday.

“We kind of barnstormed it a little bit,” said UMaine coach Steve Trimper.

The Black Bears went a combined 1-3 against Wagner and Bryant, failing to achieve consistency in all phases of the game.

“We just didn’t play the way we’ve been playing baseball,” Trimper said. “No excuses, no blaming it on travel or anything. That’s baseball in the Northeast.”

UMaine (13-12) hopes to regroup with a four-game homestand against Iona (1-19-1) at Mahaney Diamond in Orono. Today’s 4 p.m. contest is expected to kick off the series, weather-permitting.

Rain is in the forecast for today and Saturday, which could disrupt the schedule. Saturday’s second game will be seven innings, while the rest will go nine.

“It’s nice to be back home,” said Trimper. “This is our last tuneup [before America East play].”

Trimper said the weather conditions should provide further evidence of the value of having FieldTurf and an efficient drainage system beneath Mahaney Diamond.

“We should be able to play the second if it stops raining,” he said. “The whole point of putting this field in was yes, get on the field early, but also to sustain weather.”

The Bears hope to rebound after experiencing some struggles on the road. One area they hope to be more efficient is capitalizing on scoring opportunities.

UMaine has a healthy .321 team batting average and is averaging 6.2 runs per game. Even so, the Bears are only 4-10 this spring when scoring fewer than six runs and they’re 0-4 in games decided by one run.

That means they need to score more runs while refining their pitching and playing better defense, which should be a given playing on the turf.

“In Florida, when we were playing well, we got a big, two-out hit, a big home run,” Trimper said. “We didn’t get that big, two-out RBI in a few of those [recent] games.

UMaine is batting .308 with runners in scoring position, led by sophomore Jarrett Lukas of Old Town (10-for-20, .500), freshman George Tager (6-for-11, .545) and senior Billy Cather (14-for-36, .389).

Senior Kevin McAvoy of Brewer leads the Bears in several offensive categories, including batting average (.388), home runs (5), doubles (8), on-base percentage (.475), slugging percentage (.659) and total bases (56).

The pitching staff has experienced some early-game struggles in recent outings. Veterans Matt Jebb and Kevin Scanlan look to rebound from lackluster starts, while freshmen A.J. Bazdanes and Pat Quinn will also take the mound.

Quinn has allowed only seven hits in 13¤ innings and opponents are batting a paltry .146 against him. Bazdanes has struck out 21 and walked only seven in 23¤ innings, holding foes to a .167 average.

BEAR TRACKS: Junior righthander Joe Miller is still day-to-day while recovering from a right forearm strain. He may be held out until conference play and could be utilized out of the bullpen. … Sophomore first baseman Joey Martin of Portland is getting back into the swing of things after missing more than two weeks with a shoulder injury. He hasn’t played since hurting himself sliding into second base on March 14 against Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla.

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