University of Maine right-hander Justin Courtney, who underwent Tommy John surgery on his elbow 13 months ago, will make his first start in more than a month on Sunday as the Black Bears finish an important three-game America East series at Hartford.
The Bangor senior had been hampered by a sore bicep and flu-like symptoms of late but said Friday he feels great and is hoping to have a strong outing against the Hawks.
“I’m going to try to get five innings in. I still have an 80-pitch limit,” said Courtney, a former freshman All-American and second-team All-America East selection.
He has appeared in only five games this season has an 0-2 record with a 9.60 earned run average. He has allowed 25 hits and walked six while striking out 12 in 15 innings.
“I’m trying to get the feel back for all of my pitches. The breaking stuff and changeup will be the last pitches to come back. The slider is getting better each week,” Courtney said.
Courtney allowed four runs in one inning of relief in his last outing against Albany on April 28.
With the America East tournament set May 22-25 in Vestal, New York, and UMaine already having qualified, Black Bears coach Nick Derba is looking for a reliable third starter behind senior Nick Silva and junior Cody Laweryson.
“I need to see if Justin can help us,” Derba said. “He threw a bullpen session this week and looked like the Justin Courtney of old.”
He wants to keep sophomore righty Peter Kemble of Bangor in the bullpen.
The third-place Black Bears (9-8 America East) hope to earn a first-round bye by finishing first or second. UMaine is 1 1/2 games behind second-place Binghamton (10-6), and a half-game ahead of fourth place Albany and Hartford.
All-conference, first-team third baseman Danny Casals will continue to be the designated hitter due to a tender shoulder so regular catcher Cody Pasic will play third and freshman Ryan Turenne will catch, Derba said.
“This is a big time of the year. You want to start peaking before the playoffs,” Courtney said.