ORONO, Maine — The bunt sign was still on for University of Maine sophomore first baseman Joe Bramanti even though he was behind in the count 0-2 in the fifth inning of Sunday afternoon’s America East game against the University of Maryland Baltimore County
UMaine was leading 3-2 and had runners on first and second and nobody out.
He executed a sacrifice but it was nullified by a balk call so, with runners on second and third, UMaine head coach Nick Derba let Bramanti swing away and he delivered a game-changing two-run ground-rule double to lead UMaine to a 9-2 victory at wind-swept Mahaney Diamond.
Bramanti wound up driving in four runs with three hits as the run-starved Black Bears, who entered the game hitting just .189 as a team and averaging only 2.3 runs per game, erupted for 11 hits, their second-most this season, to win the series.
The teams had split a Saturday doubleheader with UMaine capturing the opener 2-1 and UMBC triumphing 4-1 in the nightcap.
Following Sunday’s victory, UMaine improved to 4-22 overall and 3-5 in America East, while UMBC fell to 14-13 and 2-7, respectively.
UMaine will host UMass Lowell for a three-game set next Saturday (2) and Sunday at noon.
Danny Casals opened the decisive three-run fifth-inning rally by reaching on third baseman Christian Torres’ throwing error, and Colin Ridley was hit by a pitch thrown by reliever Greg Albert.
After the balk, Bramanti worked the count full before hooking Albert’s inside pitch down the left-field line.
“It was a roller-coaster at-bat,” said Bramanti, whose four RBIs have given him the team lead with 12. “I got the bunt sign down 0-2, the balk happened and then I was just trying to put the ball in play.
“(Albert) left a slider hanging and I connected with it,” he added.
Bramanti eventually scored on Bobby Brennan’s infield single.
Bramanti came through again in the sixth with an RBI single to center and a second run scored on the play on an outfield throwing error.
“I was just trying to stay in my zone … work back up the middle and get comfortable hitting. I was just trying to drive in runs which I haven’t done of late and I should be doing in the fifth spot in the lineup,” he added. “I felt really comfortable today.”
“He didn’t necessarily execute the way we wanted him to (with the bunt) but he came through in a much bigger way and that’s how you win baseball games,” Derba said.
Junior righty Cody Laweryson from Moscow, Maine, picked up his first win of the season with seven innings of impressive five-hit, two-run baseball, striking out 10 and walking three (two intentionally). He threw 97 pitches, 66 for strikes.
Nick Sinacola and Matt Geoffrion each pitched a scoreless inning.
“I felt really good out there today,” said Laweryson. “I was throwing fastballs and sliders mostly. My fastball was always my go-to. I felt like I could place it pretty much anywhere.”
The Black Bears strung together four two-out singles in the bottom the first to take a 2-1 lead after UMBC had pushed across a run in the top of the first on Torres’ slicing RBI single to left center.
Casals started UMaine’s two-run rally in the bottom of the inning with a line-drive single to center and Ridley, Bramanti and Ryan Turenne followed with base hits. Bramanti’s singled tied it and freshman Turenne’s first career RBI made it 2-1.
Blaze O’Saben tied it with an RBI single in the top of the third but UMaine took the lead for good with a run without the benefit of a hit in the bottom of the third.
Lefty Andy Rozylowicz, who came on in relief of starter Tanner Esposito in the second, walked Casals with one out and hit Ridley with a pitch.
Casals stole third and scored on a wild pitch.
Casals and Ridley had two singles each for UMaine and Torres and O’Saben had a pair apiece for UMBC.