University of Maine sophomore right-hander Cody Laweryson had to attend a funeral on Friday but he made it back in time to toss six innings of two-hit, one-run baseball as the Black Bears salvaged a split of Friday’s America East doubleheader with Hartford 3-1 after the Hawks had clinched their first ever league regular season championship in the opener with a 9-2 triumph.
The Black Bears, 12-11 in the conference and 18-31 overall, can still finish second behind Hartford and earn a first-round bye in the America East Tournament in Orono beginning Wednesday if they can beat the Hawks in Saturday’s Seniors Day finale at noon and get some help.
The Black Bears would need Stony Brook and UMass Lowell to get their final game rained out and the University of Maryland Baltimore County to either lose a game in Sunday’s doubleheader with Albany or get rained out.
UMBC’s single game with Albany on Saturday in Baltimore has already been rained out.
Hartford is now 15-8 in the conference, 22-29 overall.
UMBC is currently second with an 11-10 conference record and Stony Brook and UMass Lowell, who split a Friday twinbill, are each 12-11 along with UMaine.
UMaine would lose the tiebreaker to all three so it has to finish with a better conference record.
In Friday’s second game, Moscow native and former Upper Kennebec Valley High of Bingham star Laweryson struck out two and didn’t walk anybody over six innings to even his record at 3-3 and Connor Johnson notched his second save by pitching a scoreless seventh, allowing two hits and striking out one.
“He pitched great. He only threw 72 pitches,” said UMaine head coach Nick Derba.
The only run he allowed came on T.J. Ward’s third homer of the year in the fourth inning that gave Hartford a short-lived 1-0 lead.
Jeremy Pena tied it with his fifth homer in the bottom of the fourth and UMaine took the lead for good in the fifth when Kevin Doody hit a one-out single, Cody Pasic walked, Pena was hit by a pitch and reliever Jack Rose, who came on to replace Tyler Coppo with the bases loaded, balked home the winning run.
UMaine added an insurance run in the sixth on Chris Bec’s triple and Danny Casals’ double.
Casals had a single to go with his double for UMaine and Jackson Olson had two singles for the Hawks.
In the first game, the Hawks touched up UMaine ace senior righty John Arel for four runs in the first inning and never looked back.
Nick Campana reached on an infield hit to open the game and stole second. Bryce Walker drew a walk and Ashton Bardzell poked an infield hit to the right side which produced a run when second baseman Casals made a throwing error to first.
Chris Sullivan belted a two-run triple and he scored on Olson’s sacrifice fly.
UMaine got one back in the bottom of the first on Casals’ sacrifice fly and the teams swapped second-inning runs on Ward’s RBI single and Pasic’s sacrifice fly.
But the Hawks added a third-inning run on John Thrasher’s solo homer and another in the fourth on Ward’s run-scoring single before Ward doubled in two more runs in the sixth.
Ward finished with three hits and four RBIs to back the combined five-hit pitching of Nathan Florence and Drew Farkas. They teamed up for 12 strikeouts and two walks.
Florence improved to 3-5.
Hernen Sardinas and Jonathan Bennett each doubled for UMaine, which was without starting second baseman Caleb Kerbs who had to return home to Brooklyn, N.Y. to attend a family matter.
Bangor freshman Peter Kemble pitched three innings of hitless, scoreless relief for UMaine.
Arel allowed five hits and six runs in three innings with four walks and a strikeout.
“John didn’t have his stuff today,” said Derba, who was pleased that his team bounced back to win the nightcap.
Derba praised Hartford for winning its first conference title, saying the Hawks deserved it.
“They have a very good coaching staff and the best pitching in the league, without a doubt,” he said.
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