June 20, 2018
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Albany salvages America East baseball series finale against UMaine

By Pete Warner, BDN Staff

ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine hoped to wrap up a sweep of its America East baseball series against the University at Albany on Sunday.

The Black Bears didn’t play well enough to accomplish the goal.

The Great Danes erased a three-run deficit and kept the hosts off the scoreboard over the final three innings to claim a 7-6 victory at Mahaney Diamond.

UMaine (15-14, 6-3 AE), which swept Saturday’s doubleheader 4-1 and 7-4, takes a one-game lead over Binghamton into next weekend’s series in Orono.

“We’re coming in here to get the sweep and we didn’t get that done today,” said senior shortstop Mike Fransoso.

“We’ve had some trouble the past few weeks getting that third win. We’ve just got to find a way to get it done,” he added.

On Sunday, UMaine managed only four hits and committed two errors as Albany (8-13, 4-5 AE) took the finale.

Reliever Derek Zielinski (2-3) overcame a shaky start and allowed only one unearned run and no hits over the last 3 1/3 innings to help the Great Danes prevail.

The Bears played from behind much of the contest, then scored five times in the sixth inning to grab a 6-3 lead. They could not keep the upper hand.

“We’re trying to establish ourselves as a consistent ballclub, that’s one of our goals, and today was one of those days that we beat ourselves,” said UMaine coach Steve Trimper.

D.J. Hoagboon doubled, singled and knocked in two runs among five Albany batters with two hits. Gordon Madej posted two singles and two RBIs and Matt Hinchy singled twice with an RBI.

UMaine got a two-run single from Fransoso and an RBI single by Eric White of Brewer.

The Bears rallied during a five-run sixth inning that turned a 3-1 deficit into a 6-3 advantage.

Sam Balzano of Portland and Colin Gay walked, then pinch hitter Fran Whitten was hit by a pitch. Ryan Stinar was lifted in favor of Andrew Jaurique, who induced White’s grounder to shortstop that led to an error and produced a run.

Shortstop Madej then made a leaping grab of a Mike Connolly line drive, before Troy Black grounded to second base for the second run.

Zielinski came on and walked Balzano and Gay, then Fransoso grounded a two-run single through the middle for the fifth run.

Albany responded. Greg Muller singled through the left side and Gaige’s hard bounder eluded second baseman Black for a hit. Hoagboon reached on a fielder’s choice grounder on which Black’s throw to second pulled Fransoso off the bag.

Madej bounced an RBI single through the right side and Nethaway delivered a single to center, chasing Bears reliever Jake Marks. Welsh greeted Logan Fullmer (1-3) with an opposite-field single to right to make it 6-6.

“We fought back and had that big inning, we just didn’t build off it,” Fransoso said. “We let them right back in it the next inning where they tied it up.”

Albany tallied the game-winner in the eighth when Muller singled, stole second when Gaige struck out, then rode home on Hoagboon’s one-out single down the left-field line.

Zielinski retired the last nine batters to make sure the one-run lead stood up.

On Saturday, the pitching of Tommy Lawrence and A.J. Bazdanes paced UMaine’s sweep.

In the opener, Lawrence scattered seven hits with a seven-inning complete game as the Bears played their first home game after 26 straight on the road.

Lawrence (4-2), a junior right-hander, struck out five, walked one and hit a batter in his home debut.

“It was a good crowd, a good day and my first time pitching here. I loved it,” Lawrence said.

UMaine scratched out four runs against Albany righty Cameron Sorgie (1-2), who allowed five hits in five innings.

The Great Danes were only 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, grounded into two double plays and had a runner picked off.

“When somebody gets on, all year I haven’t felt any pressure,” Lawrence said. “I know my defense is going to make the plays.”

Alex Calbick and White each singled twice among six hits for the Bears, who scored all the runs they would need in the second inning.

Calbick singled to left-center, Brian Doran walked and White laid down a bunt single along the third-base line. The first run scored on a wild pitch, then Connolly laced an RBI single through the right side.

In Game 2, Bazdanes (3-3) worked 7⅔ strong innings. The senior righty, who sat out last season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery, gave up six hits and four runs (three earned).

“Our starting pitching’s been unbelievable so far this year,” said White, who collected five hits in the twinbill.

“They’re throwing strikes and it’s really helped our defense a lot, keeping us on our toes,” he added.

Bazdanes (4 strikeouts, 1 walk) gave way to junior Sean Coughlin, who gave up two infield hits in the eighth, but retired the side in order in the ninth and struck out three.

White stroked a double and two singles and scored three times for UMaine, which racked up 15 hits.

“He needs a couple bloops and bleeders,” Trimper said of White. “He’s owed them by the baseball gods because he’s certainly slammed the ball around with a lot of loud outs.”

Black posted three singles with two RBIs while Fransoso doubled and singled with an RBI.

Doran knocked in two runs with two singles and Gay singled twice.

Nethaway paced Albany with a double, two singles and an RBI. Jeff Welsh (RBI) and Madej added two singles each.

The Bears scored twice in the seventh to make it 5-2. Black pulled a single through the right side then Balzano reached on a throwing error. Starter Kasceim Graham (3-3) got two outs, but hit Calbick to load the bases.

Doran followed with a popop to right-center that fell amongst three fielders for a two-run single.

Albany scored twice in the eighth but UMaine responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning on RBI singles by Balzano and Fransoso.

Update: This story has been corrected. Maine pitcher Tommy Lawrence gave up seven hits, not six, as the result of an official scoring change.

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