The University of Southern Maine in January 2019.

The University of Southern Maine baseball team, which has been ranked as high as No. 2 in the Division III national polls this spring, will begin its pursuit of an NCAA championship Friday when it hosts one of 16 regional tournaments at Ed Flaherty Field.

The Huskies, ranked third in the latest National College Baseball Writers Association/ poll, is one of 18 at-large teams selected for the 58-school field.

Coach Ed Flaherty’s club (34-7) opens its regional at noon Friday against New England College (25-15), champion of the New England Collegiate Conference.

In Friday’s second game of the four-team, double-elimination event, State University of New York Athletic Conference champion Oswego State (29-12) faces Massachusetts Institute of Technology (22-17-1), champion of the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference, at 3:30 p.m.

This year’s Division III tournament features 13 four-team regionals and three two-team regionals. The four-team regionals will be played over three days while the two team regionals will be best-of-five series contested over three days if necessary.

The 16 regional champions will advance to eight super-regionals involving best-of-three series. The super-regional winners move on to the national finals in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Southern Maine is making its third straight appearance in the tournament and seventh in the last eight years. Since moving to the NCAA in 1985, this is the Huskies’ 25th overall appearance, including national championships in 1991 and 1997.

USM earned this year’s NCAA berth after winning the Little East Conference regular-season title and finishing third in the conference tournament.

Little East Conference tournament champion UMass Boston (30-11) earned the league’s automatic berth and also is hosting a regional tournament. The Beacons will host Wheaton (27-10), Saint Joseph’s College of Standish (32-10) and Baruch College of New York City (17-18).

Saint Joseph’s is making its first regional appearance since 2014 and its ninth in the last 14 seasons after capturing the Great Northeast Athletic Conference championship.

USM’s Lambert, Flaherty earn top Little East awards

USM junior right-hander Ben Lambert of Saco and head coach Ed Flaherty were selected for two of the Little East Conference’s top postseason awards this week.

Lambert was named the league’s pitcher of the year at 9-0 with a 1.14 earned run average. Opposing hitters are batting just .182 against him.

Flaherty was voted by his peers as coach of the year for a record 10th time in the 23 seasons of Little East Conference baseball.

Lambert was joined by six USM teammates on the All-Little East teams, including senior Jake Dexter of Oakland, who was named to the first team at second base and to the second team at relief pitcher.

Dexter is a three-time, first-team, all-conference pick at second base and a four-time choice as relief pitcher. He is the Huskies’ leading hitter at .376 with 32 RBI. The closer has a 1-1 record with eight saves and a 2.08 ERA.

Other USM All-Little East first-team honorees are junior shortstop Andrew Olszak (.355, 23 RBI) and senior outfielder Zach Quintal of Eliot (.354, 13 doubles, 4 HR, 44 RBIs, 16 stolen bases).

Named to the second team were junior third baseman Andrew Hillier of Bangor (.357, 12 doubles, 5 HR, 31 RBI), junior designated hitter Dylan Hapworth of Winslow (.318, 30 RBI) and sophomore outfielder Sam Troiano of South Portland (.319, 8 HR, 31 RBI).

Scheuers leaves Thomas post

Joe Scheuers has resigned as men’s basketball coach at Thomas College in Waterville to take the same position at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana.

In his lone season at Thomas, Scheuers guided the Terriers to a 12-12 record overall, 9-5 in the North Atlantic Conference. Thomas entered postseason seeded fourth in the NAC, defeated Maine Maritime Academy in the quarterfinals and upset top-ranked UMaine-Farmington in the semifinals before falling to Husson University in the conference championship game.

Scheuers previously served as the associate head coach at Earlham for four seasons.

“I want to thank everybody at Thomas for making this past year a very special experience for my family,”

“The basketball program here accomplished a lot on and off the court this year,” Scheuers said in a press release. “The way we came together and developed a true sense of confidence in each other is something I am very proud of.”

Assistant coach Deshon Gaither will serve as the point of contact for the Thomas men’s basketball program while a search is under way for Scheuers’ successor.

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...