BALTIMORE, Md. — The scoring carousel kept going round and round Saturday afternoon for the University of Maine baseball team.
The Black Bears battered University of Maryland Baltimore County pitching for 39 hits and 35 runs while breezing to a sweep of their America East doubleheader and the four-game series.
Senior Justin Leisenheimer bashed three home runs and knocked in seven runs to power UMaine’s 18-1 victory in the opener, then junior Michael Fransoso stroked two doubles and two singles with four RBIs as the Bears posted a 17-11 verdict in the finale at wind-whipped Baseball Factory Field.
“It was pretty insane this weekend,” said junior Tyler Patzalek. “Everyone decided to bring their sticks. We’ve been needing to get that, no doubt. The fact that we could consistently keep hitting like that was pretty impressive.”
Coach Steve Trimper’s ballclub (16-14, 4-0 AE) extended its winning streak to nine games with another relentless offensive performance.
The Bears pounded out 76 hits on the way to 76 runs in the four games and made a statement to start league play.
“It’s always good to get a sweep to open the conference (season) up, so you know we’re going to carry that into next week and maybe get another sweep, take it one game at a time,” Fransoso said.
UMaine, which set a school and conference record with 32 runs in Friday’s second game, eclipsed the program mark for doubles with nine in Saturday’s second game.
The Bears, who received contributions up and down the lineup, have developed a lot of confidence moving forward
“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to the players because they knew conference play was starting,” Trimper said. “I don’t think we played up to our expectations earlier on, but they really just focused in on conference play.”
Leisenheimer went 5-for-9 Saturday with eight RBIs, Patzalek knocked in six runs while going 6-for-11 with three doubles and a home run and senior Ian Leisenheimer had four hits in 10 at-bats with seven RBIs.
Sophomore Fran Whitten (5-for-8, 3 RBI, 6 runs scored) and Fransoso (6-for-10, 5 runs, 3 RBI) also were key performers.
UMBC (7-21, 0-4) managed 16 hits in the second game, but could not slow down the UMaine scoring train.
In the opener, Justin Leiseinheimer smashed three home runs and knocked in seven runs.
UMaine scored two runs in the first inning, then tallied five in the second and two more in the third to provide a comfortable cushion for Shaun Coughlin. The sophomore righthander (2-2) limited the Retrivers to five hits while going the distance.
Coughlin, utilizing a well-placed fastball, a curveball, a slider and a changeup, struck out three and walked one while throwing 107 pitches.
“It’s so relaxing,” Coughlin said of the offensive support. “You just go out there and know that you don’t have to be perfect. If you make a few mistakes, you’re fine.”
Justin Leiseinheimer crushed a two-run homer to left-center in the third inning, jacked a two-run bomb to left in the sixth and hammered a three-run blast to left in the seventh. He also scored four runs.
“I already had two (homers) and the balls were flying out of here today, so I figured I’d give it the old, college try and try to get the third one,” quipped Leisenheimer, who enjoyed his first three-homer game.
“I have confidence in my team that we’re going to keep rolling from here,” he added.
Patzalek continued his torrid hitting, posting two doubles and two singles with three RBIs, while Whitten contributed a double and two singles with an RBI and three runs scored.
Scott Heath of Westbrook doubled and singled with two RBIs, Fransoso doubled and singled and scored three runs and Colin Gay singled twice for the Bears.
Mike Lafferty led the Retrievers with two singles.
In the finale, UMaine built a 5-0 lead, watched UMBC score seven unanswered runs, then rallied for 12 straight runs to pull away.
Big blows included Whitten’s two-run home run in the second inning, Patzalek’s two-run shot in the third and Ian Leisenheimer’s two-run triple in the sixth.
Ian Leisenheimer added a run-scoring double and a single and Whitten hit two more singles.
Sophomore Mike Connolly (3-3) got the win on the mound, allowing nine hits and six runs (four earned) in 5 2/3 innings of relief. Starter D.J. Voisine experienced back stiffness and struggled.
UMBC starter Mac Gill (1-3) was touched up for 13 hits and 10 runs in 5 2/3 innings.
UMaine took the lead for good in the fifth. Whitten singled through the right side, Justin Leisenheimer was hit by a pitch and Troy Black advanced them with a sacrifice bunt.
Fransoso slammed an RBI single high off the center field fence and, one out later, Ian Leisenheimer pulled a ball inside the bag at third that took a bad bounce and wound up being a two-run triple.
Heath walked, then Patzalek lined a run-scoring double off the fence in left-center to give the Bears a 10-7 lead.
UMaine then rapped five doubles, including four in a row at one point, during a five-run seventh that ended the suspense.
UMaine is scheduled to play Division III Colby College of Waterville in a 4 p.m. game on Tuesday.