Thousands have sports fans have flocked to Vancouver, British Columbia, for this month’s Winter Olympics.
One young man from nearby Burnaby, British Columbia, is instead looking forward to spending his college years playing baseball in Orono.
Alex Calbick, lefthanded-hitting third baseman, has verbally committed to attend the University of Maine beginning next fall.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder plays for the Coquitlam Reds Baseball Club and is a member of the Canadian Junior National Team. He visited Orono two weeks ago and liked what he saw.
“When I visited the campus, as soon as I got there I knew it was the right fit for me,” Calbick said Monday night. “The campus itself is a smaller campus and I really enjoy that. The people in the city really support the university, so I was excited to hear that. And the players and coaches, they’re great guys.”
UMaine head coach Steve Trimper is prohibited by NCAA rules from commenting on recruits until they have signed a National Letter of Intent. The late signing period is in April.
Calbick said he chose UMaine over the University of Kansas, the University of Utah and the College of Southern Nevada, a junior-college power.
Calbick had a couple of connections to UMaine, including Bears freshman righthander Jeff Gibbs. The two were teammates on the Canadian Junior National Team.
He also discussed his options with that team’s coach, Greg Hamilton, a former UMaine assistant under Paul Kostacopoulos.
“He thought Maine would be a great fit for me,” Calbick said.
Calbick was a British Columbia Premier Baseball League first-team pick last season after batting .333 with a home run and 21 RBIs. He will arrive at UMaine with international playing experience in the United States and the Dominican Republic.
“I feel I’m a better hitter than defense, but I think I can play the all-around game pretty well,” Calbick said.
The UMaine women’s basketball team finds itself facing the possibility of playing in the America East Championship play-in game for a third consecutive season.
Coach Cindy Blodgett’s ballclub is 8-19 overall, 4-11 in league play, while preparing Saturday’s “Senior Day” regular-season finale in Orono against Albany.
UMaine is in seventh place, a half-game ahead of Albany and New Hampshire, both of which are 3-11 with two games remaining this week.
The Bears’ fate won’t be determined until Saturday.
Albany faces Hartford tonight, while New Hampshire plays Binghamton on Wednesday. Even if both the Great Danes and Wildcats lose, UMaine must beat Albany on Saturday to finish seventh.
The Bears have the tiebreaker against UNH, but Albany would beat out UMaine in the event of a tie by virtue of a victory over Stony Brook.
The women’s play-in game, pitting the Nos. 8 and 9 seeds, kicks off the America East Championship on March 4 at 6 p.m. at the University of Hartford.
If UMaine finishes seventh, it likely would face a March 5 quarterfinal matchup against Vermont, which beat the Bears twice during the regular season. However, Boston University still has a chance to move up into the No. 2 spot.
The UMaine pitching staff got more work than coach Trimper bargained for during the season-opening, three-game baseball series at Lamar.
The staff’s depth and readiness were tested thanks to a 17-inning marathon in Saturday’s series finale.
The contest, the second-longest in UMaine history, meant the Bears had to use five pitchers. The coaches had pitch counts in place to prevent overworking the staff.
Freshman Steve Perakslis and senior co-captain Myckie Lugbauer, who were being groomed for short relief stints, combined to work 9ª scoreless innings in the 17-inning game.
Perakslis allowed only three hits in 4ª innings and Lugbauer, UMaine’s starting catcher, worked five innings of four-hit ball with six strikeouts.
“When we put Perakslis in, we weren’t planning on having him go four innings,” Trimper said.
“We go to Myckie next and he’s a guy that’s been throwing one or two innings at a clip,” he added. “He goes out and throws 70 pitches and throws a gem.”
UMaine utilized nine pitchers in three games, including newcomers Barry Keiffer, Jeff Gibbs, Chris Bernard of Scarborough and Perakslis.
Trimper was pleased with the Bears’ pitching and defense. He said most players were slow to get into a groove at the plate.
UMaine scored only seven runs and batted .200 as a team. Sophomore Ian Leisenheimer led the way at .385, while freshman Tyler Patzalek hit .300. Sophomore Taylor Lewis had four RBIs.
“We did not swing the bats extremely well and guys that normally do hit just didn’t get it going. It’s early and that does happen,” Trimper said.
The UMaine coach believes his team could have won two of the games.
“I’m very disappointed that we went down there and walked out saying we should have taken two games,” Trimper said. “We played good enough to win ballgames.”
UMaine is preparing for a three-game set at 12th–ranked North Carolina. They’ll play single games Friday, Saturday and Sunday.