Poor hitting and erratic pitching led to Maine’s baseball team dropping their first doubleheader of the weekend against New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) on Friday. In the initial game, NYIT scored six runs before the Black Bears could even find their way onto the scoreboard, as the Bears won 9-4. In the second game, a questionable pitching change led to Maine losing a one run advantage in the final inning, as NYIT handed them a 4-2 loss.
The two losses increases Maine’s losing streak to 10 games, and brings their overall record down to 5-22. Their 0-5 record within the America East remains unchanged. With the pair of victories, NYIT propels to to 13-15 on the season.
In the first game of the Friday doubleheader, the Black Bears fell 9-4 after NYIT scored six consecutive runs to open the game. Both teams also had to deal with high winds and sporadic raining conditions throughout the matchup.
For Maine, first-year outfielder Colin Ridley was an impact performer. In batting four times throughout the contest, Ridley recorded three hits and two runs. In their four combined trips up to bat, first-year infielder Danny Casals and fourth-year catcher Kevin Stypulkowski both accumulated two hits and one run each. When it came to NYIT’s significant players, first-year first baseman Jake Lebel, fourth-year catcher Christopher Rula and third-year infielder Louis Mele all accounted for two hits and two runs. Though they lost, Maine managed to outhit NYIT 15-12 in the contest. After the game, Head Coach Steve Trimper acknowledged that though the team got plenty of hits, they came at poor times.
“We simply are just not getting the timely hits,” Trimper said, “and what that does is put a lot of pressure on the pitching and defense.”
Second-year pitcher Chris Murphy had to absorb that added pressure as he got the start on the mound for the Black Bears. He started the game’s first six innings, allowing three hits and three runs, while forcing 10 strikeouts in one of the best performances of his career.
“Every single day I work with that kid and I see him get better and better,” Trimper said. “Today you saw what Chris (Murphy) is capable of doing. He’s capable of being another knock down guy in this program for years to come.”
Though NYIT’s third-year pitcher Matt Diaz gave up seven hits, he caused seven strikeouts and allowed no runs in his five innings of action.
After four scoreless innings, NYIT stole the lead at the top of the fifth. It started when Lebel opened up the inning by hitting a double. Moments later, Lebel managed to steal third base on a throwing error. With Lebel in good position, first-year infielder Matt DeAngelis forced a walk to first base. With Lebel on third and DeAngelis on first, Mele stepped up to the plate and hit the ball over the fence, allowing all three of them to score runs. With Mele’s momentum changing home run, NYIT took the 3-0 lead over Maine.
With the lead in hand, NYIT didn’t relent, scoring another three runs in the top of the seventh. The scoring spree began when fourth-year pitcher Charlie Butler came in to replace Murphy on the mound for the Black Bears. Immediately after the change, Rula hit a double. Moments later, fourth-year outfielder Joe Daru swung one over the fence, allowing himself and Rula to make it to home plate. Mele then forced a walk to first base. Once third-year catcher Anthony Caradonna singled to the left side of the field, Mele managed to make it to second. With a hit from third-year outfielder Frank Sanacore, Mele completed his run, giving NYIT the 6-0 advantage.
As the weather worsened into heavy rain, the Black Bears’ resilience was unwavering. At the bottom of the seventh, Maine attempted to climb back. With Casals standing on first base, Stypulkowski hit a home run, cutting NYIT’s lead down to 6-2. With empty bases, Ridley then hit a home run of his own, allowing Maine to get their third run of the inning. Despite the resurgence from Maine, NYIT held on to the 6-3 lead.
At the top of the eighth, Lebel scored his second run of the day when he hit a home run for the Bears. After the score, Rula forced a walk to first base. On a passed ball, he continued his journey to second. After Daru grounded a ball out to second base, Rula dashed to third. With a single from Mele, Rula completed his run to home plate, allowing NYIT to take the 8-3 advantage.
The Bears received one final run at the top of the ninth. It began when Sanacore singled to first. When the optimal chance arose, he managed to steal second. After a hit from Lebel to the left edge of the diamond, Sanacore completed his dash home, raising NYIT’s lead to 9-3.
The Black Bears were in need of a miracle at the bottom of the ninth. While hitting a ball to the right side of the field, Ridley ran to first. After fourth-year infielder Brett Chappell hit a ball, Ridley saw the perfect opportunity to steal all the way to third. With a final single from fourth-year first baseman Brenden Geary, Ridley capped off his run, ending the Black Bears’ first game in tune to a 9-4 loss.
Despite the loss, the Black Bears were able to find some positives in the game, such as Murphy’s solid day of pitching.
“Every time I’ve pitched this year, I’ve gotten a little bit better,” Murphy said. “Today was obviously the best I’ve thrown all season and my career, so I’m just going to try and build off this and keep going forward.”
NYIT battles back to top Maine 4-2
In the second game of Friday’s doubleheader, the Black Bears marched into the seventh inning with a one run lead, only to watch as their own lackluster pitching allowed NYIT to rip off a trio of runs, giving the NYIT Bears the 4-2 victory.
At times, Maine showed glimpses of being a solid team. In his three trips to bat, first-year infielder Jeremy Pena accumulated two hits, while capitalizing on one run. In addition, Casals batted three times, striking out once, snagging one hit and scoring one run. When it came to NYIT, Daru and DeAngelis both stepped up to plate four times, registering two hits, two strikeouts and one run each. NYIT managed to outhit Maine 11-5 throughout the contest. After getting 15 hits in their first matchup, it was clear the Black Bears were expecting a little more success at bat.
“I thought we had good momentum even though we didn’t play good the first game, we did have momentum offensively going into the second game and it kind of didn’t carry over like we thought,” Stypulkowski said.
Second-year pitcher John Arel received the go ahead start for Maine on the mound. In his six innings of action, he played adequately, giving up seven hits and a single run, while also striking out 10 batters. With their one run advantage on the line in the final inning, the Black Bears turned to second-year pitcher Connor Johnson to fill the closer role. Unfortunately, the decision backfired as he was quickly exposed. He allowed four hits and three runs in his single inning of action. For NYIT, third-year pitcher Elias Martinez received the start throughout the entirety of the contest. He gave up five hits and a pair of runs, while forcing three strikeouts.
After two scoreless innings, the Black Bears got on the board at the bottom of the third. It started when Casals hit a single past the shortstop, allowing Casals to easily get to first base. With a bunt from Pena, Casals dashed to second, while Pena wound up on first. On a throwing error from the shortstop, Casals and Pena both made it to third and second base, respectively. Casals and Pena both found their way home when Stypulkowski knocked a ball to the left edge of the diamond. Following the pair of runs, the Black Bears took the 2-0 advantage.
NYIT started to build momentum at the top of the sixth. It began when DeAngelis singled to the right side of the field. Moments later, Caradonna hit a double, allowing DeAngelis to advance to third. With a final hit from Sanacore past the shortstop, DeAngelis managed to complete his run to home plate. After the inning, NYIT moved to within one run of tying the game, as the scoreboard read 2-1 in favor of Maine.
The Black Bears watched helplessly as their lead was stolen at the top of the seventh. Maine decided to pull Arel, and instead, replace him with Johnson. The decision quickly grew dire as Rula opened the inning by hitting a double to left field. Then Daru doubled, allowing Rula to finish his rapid run and tie the score. NYIT’s attack continued, as Daru managed to steal third. With a single from Caradonna, Daru made it to home plate, giving NYIT the 3-2 lead. However, the team wasn’t done rubbing salt in the wound as the inning ended with Sanacore hitting a ball up to the middle of the diamond, letting Mele finish a run. Following the trio of runs, NYIT took the commanding 4-2 advantage. The Black Bears had a chance to climb back at the bottom of the seventh, but three quick outs proved it wasn’t meant to be. The seventh inning ended with NYIT winning 4-2. After the game, Trimper recognized that the Black Bears’ success in practices hasn’t been transitioning to matches.
“The frustrating thing to me, as a coach, is that we work so hard at practice,” Trimper said. “When you practice hard you expect to play hard and there’s something that’s not clicking.”
Ridley’s Grand Slam leads Black Bears over NYIT 8-5
After 10 straight losses, the Black Bears’ baseball team was on life-support as they desperately needed a spark to recover their season. That spark came in the form of a grand slam from Ridley in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader against NYIT. The home run breathed life into the Black Bears, as they proceeded to win the first game 8-5, and the second game 4-1.
“We needed something to spark us up and that was it, and that really did the job,” Casals said following Ridley’s home run.
Because of their resurgence, Maine ends the weekend splitting the four games series against NYIT 2-2. The Black Bears now stand at 7-22 overall, while the visiting NYIT Bears fall down to 13-17 on the year.
In the first game, a six-run inning and Ridley’s memorable homer led to Maine getting their first victory since mid-March, as they beat NYIT 8-5.
In the match, Ridley played phenomenal for the Black Bears. He batted in five runners, scored a run of his own and tallied a single hit, with no strikeouts. Casals had another solid game, coming up to the bat four times, where he scored two runs and made four hits. Though Lebel didn’t score any runs for NYIT, he managed to bat in a trio of runners in the sixth inning. Maine’s usual batting problem also wasn’t very dire, as they outhit NYIT 14-6 throughout the game.
Second-year pitcher Justin Courtney received the start on the mound for the Black Bears. In his six innings of game action, he allowed six hits and five runs, while accumulating five strikeouts. NYIT gave the nod to fourth-year pitcher Dixon Marble, who struggled mightily throughout the outing. He gave up nine hits and eight runs, while only striking out a pair of batters.
The Black Bears wasted no time, scoring their first run in the bottom of the first. It began when Casals hit a single right over the glove of a baseman. Then, a wild pitch presented Casals with the perfect opportunity to steal second base. When Pena came up to bat, he hit a bunt that let Casals advance to third. Casals completed the run to fourth when Ridley was awarded a fielder’s choice. The run gave the Black Bears the initial 1-0 lead.
The lead didn’t last long, however, as NYIT came back to tie the game up at the top of the third. On a throwing error charged to the shortstop, Rula made it to first base. After DeAngelis was hit by a pitch, Rula found himself on second. With a hit from Mele, Rula managed to complete his journey around the diamond, knotting up the score at 1-1.
At the bottom of the third, the Black Bears finally played to their potential by scoring six runs in one inning. Second-year infielder Caleb Kerbs kicked off the scoring by getting an early run after a pair of bunts brought him to third base, where a pitch that hit Stypulkowski allowed Kerbs to make it to home plate. With Casals standing on third, Pena on second and Stypulkowski on first, Ridley stepped up to bat. The crowd went wild as Ridley knocked the ball over the fence, bringing all four runners home. The grand slam helped spark the long lost fire that the Black Bears desperately needed to find. After running across the diamond, Ridley was met with tremendous support from a revitalized Black Bears’ team.
“It was amazing, it was surreal,” Casals said. “That’s a kid that works really hard and it’s great to see that come out of him. He’s a great hitter, if that’s a product of what we’re going to get the rest of the year, then there’s something special coming.”
The Black Bears weren’t finished scoring after Ridley’s home run, as the team closed the bottom of the third with one final run. Chappell continued carrying the team’s momentum by coming to the plate and hitting a single. Following the play, third-year outfielder Tyler Schwanz struck a double down the center of the field, creating the opportunity for Chappell to make it to third. Chappell completed his trip home when Geary hit a fly ball, giving the Black Bears the 7-1 advantage.
Geary kept the Black Bears rolling at the bottom of the fifth, scoring the team’s final run of the game. In the fifth inning, Geary struck the ball all the way to the fence, but the ball failed to clear it, resulting in a double. A hit from Casals finally allowed Geary to cap off his run, giving Maine the commanding 8-1 lead.
Just when it seemed like Maine would coast to an easy victory, NYIT mounted a noticeable comeback at the top of the sixth. It started when Caradonna singled, before being brought to second base by a bunt from Sanacore. Caradonna finished the quick run when third-year catcher Robert Fiato struck a double. With Sanacore standing on third base, Fiato on second and third-year outfielder Thomas Joannou on first, Lebel stepped up to the plate. He hit a double, which allowed the three quicker runners ahead of him to score. Lebel’s hit brought the score to 8-5 in favor of Maine. Despite their resurgence, NYIT’s rhythm quickly fizzled out, as they failed to score in the last three innings, preserving Maine’s 8-5 win.
Maine finishes sweep of second weekend doubleheader
For the first time all season, the Black Bears managed to win two games in a row as Maine completed their sweep of NYIT 4-1 in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader. The Black Bears fought hard and scored four unanswered runs before NYIT could respond to grab the victory. Though not everyone expected the team to win the final two games of the series, the Black Bears were successful on Saturday because they ignored their recent losses.
“Yesterday’s history, we just want to keep going forward,” Trimper said. “If we can keep that mindset, we’re going to build off of our talent and keep growing.”
Though no Black Bears had mind blowing numbers in the second game, a few players made their impacts felt. Despite only batting twice in the game, third-year outfielder Jake Osborne came into the batting rotation and notched both a hit and a run. Ridley’s impact was once again noticed when he batted in a pair of runners and ended the day with two hits of his own.
“Ridley was really locked in today,” Trimper said. “I think he was very focused for a young guy, you saw quality passes, you saw him take in pitches well. He’s been a good player, I mean he’s got some big home runs and he’s got some power.”
Fourth-year pitcher Logan Fullmer continued his recent streak of domination as he started all seven innings of the game. He managed to tally a new career-high in strikeouts with 11, while only giving up four hits and a single run. For NYIT, third-year pitcher David Plotkin received the start on the mound. He had a solid game at best, forcing three strikeouts, but also giving away four hits and two runs.
NYIT applied the initial pressure when they scored the game’s first run at the top of the second. The inning started off with Sanacore striking a double down the right edge of the diamond. With Joannou hitting a ground ball just past the shortstop, Sanacore dashed into third base. Lebel managed to then slam a ball with enough force to send it bouncing off the back fence, just short of a home run. Lebel’s double brought Sanacore through home plate, giving NYIT the 1-0 lead.
The Black Bears stole the lead at the bottom of the second. Osborne singled up the middle of the field to start the inning. Then, fourth-year catcher Jonathan Salcedo forced a walk, getting Osborne onto second base. A signature bunt from Kerbs allowed Osborne and Salcedo to take third and second, respectively. Osborne was given a clear and easy path home when NYIT’s third-year catcher Jeff Tabares failed to secure a pitch. Following the run, Casals hit a single up the middle, which brought Salcedo around to complete his run. At the end of the inning, the Black Bears held the narrow 2-1 advantage.
At the bottom of the sixth, the Black Bears finally managed to put distance on the scoreboard by notching a pair of runs. The inning began with Kerbs standing on first base after being hit by a stray pitch. A throwing error from the shortstop then allowed Pena to steal first, while Kerbs made it to second. A single from Stypulkowski got each played a base closer, and a final single from Ridley helped both Kerbs and Pena tally a run. The pair of runs gave Maine the 4-1 advantage, with only one inning remaining. With one last chance to rally the troops, NYIT failed to get any runners past second base, allowing Maine to maintain the 4-1 victory.
Though they had seen their fair share of struggles in recent games, there was a renewed sense of optimism about the future for the Black Bears. After the second doubleheader, the team felt a growing sense of confidence and they made it clear that they intend to turn their season around.
“You can already see the mood changing in the locker room,” Fullmer said. “Just by the way the players are acting now, you can tell they’ve got a little chip on their shoulder and they’re going to be good for us.”
The Black Bears will get a chance to build off their pair of victories when they host the Thomas College Terriers for a single game on Wednesday, April 13.