The University of Maine baseball team looks to regroup after a tough weekend against eighth-ranked Florida State.
The Seminoles outscored the Black Bears 34-2 during the three-game series at Tallahassee, in which UMaine had difficulty in all facets of the game.
“Embarrassing” was how coach Steve Trimper described the Bears’ efforts.
“I didn’t really have to say too much to the guys,” he said of the players’ reaction. “We went out there and we snowballed errors, which is unlike us. We carried out at-bats [psychologically] into the field.”
UMaine (3-5) returns to action Tuesday with a 6 p.m. game at 19th-ranked Stetson in Deland, Fla., then heads to Winter Haven to compete in a tournament there.
At Florida State, the difficulties started on the mound. Though junior Steve Perakslis had a solid outing (6 innings, 3 earned runs) in Friday’s 6-0 setback, UMaine’s other starters struggled mightily.
Junior Jeff Gibbs was lit up to the tune of 11 hits and 10 earned runs in Sunday’s 18-2 opening-game loss, while sophomore Shaun Coughlin allowed 10 hits and seven runs (four earned) in 4⅓ innings in Sunday’s second game.
Trimper said the staff’s emphasis on limiting walks has meant too many good pitches for opponents to hit thus far.
“We’re trying hard to throw strikes against very good teams,” he said. “We’re trying to get them to throw down in the zone now.”
Gibbs, expected to be one of the Bears’ front-line starters, is 0-2 with a 20.86 earned run average. Though he has faced two high-caliber opponents, Gibbs has surrendered 17 hits and 17 earned runs in 7⅓ innings. Teams are batting .486 against him.
The Bears also had big problems in the field, committing 15 errors in the series. Of those, junior shortstop Mike Fransoso made four — all in Sunday’s first game — while sophomore Alex Calbick committed three and sophomore second baseman Troy Black and freshman outfielder Sam Balzano of Portland had two each.
Trimper said the Bears had trouble Sunday reading the wind and settling under popups.
“It was a very windy day and we just couldn’t handle the ball in the air,” Trimper said. “I wanted to call a timeout and say let’s go hit some fungos and practice this real quick and then go back and play. A lot of them were balls we should have handled.”
The defensive and pitching problems meant UMaine was playing from behind all weekend.
“We were chasing some runs early just because of things we did to ourselves, not what Florida State did to us,” Trimper said. “It caught us back on our heels.”
Sophomore center fielder Colin Gay continues to lead the offense with a .438 batting average (1 homer, 5 RBI) and a .514 on-base percentage out of the leadoff spot. Freshman outfielder Brian Doran (.350, 4 RBI), sophomore second baseman Troy Black (.333, 1 RBI) and sophomore catcher Fran Whitten (.321, 5 RBI) are the top hitters so far.
Trimper said his team didn’t seem to handle the pressure of facing a top-quality team in a high-intensity environment despite its efforts the previous weekend at Clemson.
“We’re not playing to our capabilities right now. We will here soon,” Trimper said. “We have some things that we need to work on.”
UMaine’s pitching depth suffered a blow before the spring break trip with the loss of A.J. Bazdanes.
The senior righthander from Nashua, N.H., has undergone Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery after dealing with pain from a partially torn ligament in his pitching elbow for the past year.
“It’s something that’s been there for a while,” said Trimper, who said Bazdanes wanted to get the surgery and attempt a comeback for his fifth year in 2013.
Bazdanes was likely to contribute both as a starter and a reliever after posting a 1-5 record with a 5.04 ERA and one save in 15 appearances, including 10 starts, last season.
Senior lefthander Jon Balentina also is sidelined at the moment with what is believed to be a minor arm injury.
He felt a twinge in his forearm in his second appearance last week and was taken out for precautionary reasons.
Balentina is reportedly suffering from a flexor muscle strain in the underside of his forearm that will require him to sit out at least a week to recuperate.
He is expected to return when able. In the meantime, the Bears will be looking to some younger pitchers to step in and eat up some innings while gaining valuable experience.