ORONO — The University of Maine softball team’s hopes of landing a top two seed and a valuable first-round bye for the America East Tournament took a hit this weekend and Binghamton sophomore Rozlyn Price had a lot to do with it.
Price belted a two-out, two-run double in the eighth inning on Sunday to snap a 1-1 tie and give the Bearcats a 3-1 victory on Seniors Day after she tossed six innings of one-hit ball on Saturday as Binghamton topped the Black Bears 4-1 in the first game of their doubleheader at Kessock Field.
UMaine salvaged a split of Saturday’s twinbill by scoring five runs in the seventh inning to triumph 9-8.
UMaine is now 8-5 in the conference and in third place, one game behind 9-4 Albany. The Black Bears are 19-21 overall.
Binghamton, which had lost five straight entering the weekend, is 6-8 and 13-22, respectively.
UMaine finishes up with three games at Stony Brook (7-6, 19-19) next weekend while Albany entertains UMass Lowell for three after hosting Binghamton for a Wednesday game.
On Sunday, the Black Bears took a 1-0 lead into the sixth inning when the Bearcats tied it with an unearned run.
Carrie Maniccia was hit on the elbow by an Annie Kennedy pitch to open the sixth and Jessica Rutherford legged out a bunt single.
Kennedy struck out Jill Bovitt and induced Kate Richard to fly to right but Maniccia scored the tying run when Makayla Alvarez’s sharp grounder was mishandled by UMaine shortstop Laurine German for an error.
“I shouldn’t let the ball dictate what I do. I should be going after the ball. That was my fault,” said German.
UMaine had runners on first and second with two outs in the bottom of the seventh but freshman reliever and winner Chelsea Howard induced an inning-ending grounder by Erika Leonard.
In the top of the eighth, Bovitt grounded a one-out single to right and, one out later, Alvarez lined a single to center.
Price then rifled a 2-0 pitch down the left field line for a two-run double.
“[Kennedy] had been throwing me outside all the time and I had struggled with it until Coach [Michelle Johnston] pulled me aside and told me to stick on that outside pitch. That’s what I did and [Kennedy] missed a little bit with that pitch,” said Price.
“I was starting to run out of gas and I was a little lazy with that one. I left it too far over the plate,” said Kennedy, who had pitched a seven-inning complete game on Saturday in the 4-1 loss. All four runs were unearned.
Howard pitched 5 ⅔ innings of four-hit shutout relief to pick up the win after replacing Price. The lefty struck out six and walked two.
“My curve was working on both sides of the plate,” said Howard. “I was very happy with my outing. It was a nice team effort overall this weekend.”
UMaine had scored in the third on a one-out walk, German’s crisp single to right and a throwing error on a steal by catcher Sara Herskowitz.
Bovitt had two singles for Binghamton and Rachel Carlson had two bunt singles for UMaine.
It was the 15th time this season UMaine has been held to one run or less.
“Our compete level is not good with men on base right now,” said UMaine coach Mike Coutts. “We don’t need 12 hits a game, we just need to get them at the right time and we’re not doing that.”
“We need to work on our situational hitting,” agreed Carlson, one of eight players honored on Seniors Day.
UMaine went 2-for-15 with runners on base Sunday.
In Saturday’s wild second game, Kate Richard’s two-run single snapped a 4-4 tie during a six-run seventh-inning rally that erased a 4-2 deficit and supplied the Bearcats with an 8-4 lead.
But the Black Bears responded.
A walk, Leonard’s bunt single and German’s two-run double made it 8-6 and German eventually scored on Alyssa Derrick’s groundout. Maddie Decker walked, Kristen Niland reached on an error and Meghan Royle walked before first baseman Kassidy Seary mishandled a throw on a two-out grounder, allowing the tying and winning runs to score.
German and Decker had doubles for UMaine while Alvarez homered and doubled and drove in a pair for Binghamton and Lauren Martinez singled twice.
In the opener, Price struck out four and walked four and the only run off her was unearned. Howard pitched a scoreless seventh.
Kennedy hurled a six-hitter with six strikeouts and one walk.
Derrick singled home a first-inning run but Binghamton scored twice in the third on a Martinez single, a Derrick error and Richard’s two-out, two-run single to right.
The Bearcats added two in the fifth on a Derrick error, Rutherford’s run-scoring double and a run-producing wild pitch.
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