The University of Maine baseball team’s outfield will have a new look for the America East Tournament after two starters went down with injuries during last weekend’s four-game series in Orono against Albany.
Junior center fielder and leadoff hitter Jeff Mejia will miss the tournament due to a concussion and junior left fielder Scout Knotts, who bats third, sprained his ankle late in Saturday’s second game and won’t play in the outfield.
Head coach Nick Derba is holding out hope Knotts might be able to serve as the designated hitter.
UMaine, 21-20 overall and 16-17 in the conference, takes on Stony Brook (29-17, 25-10 AE) on Thursday at Joe Nathan Field in Stony Brook, New York. Albany (22-23, 20-18 ) faces New Jersey Institute of Technology (24-22, 23-17 AE).
Derba has replaced Mejia with freshman Jake Rainess and he said he will move Sean Lawlor from right field to left field. Freshman Colin Plante will be inserted into the lineup in right field.
Mejia is hitting .282 and leads the team with 24 walks and boasts a .404 on-base percentage. He has five doubles, a home run and 18 runs batted in and leads the Black Bears with four sacrifice bunts to go with six stolen bases.
Knotts, who was wearing a protective boot at Monday’s practice, is tied for second on the team with his .297 average. He leads the team with three triples, 37 runs scored, nine stolen bases and nine hit-by-pitches. His 14 extra-base hits rank second, while Knotts has four homers, seven doubles and 21 RBIs with a .407 on-base percentage.
Plante has played in 20 games, including 17 starts. He is hitting .157 after going 0-for-15 in his last six games.
“Colin’s the fastest guy around. He just has to put the ball in play,” Derba said.
Plante has struck out 19 times in 51 at-bats.
The losers play an 11 a.m. elimination game on Friday in the four-team, double-elimination event, while Thursday’s winners play at 2:30 p.m. Games also are set for 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
An if-necessary championship game would be held Sunday at noon. The winner advances to the NCAA Division I Tournament.