The University of Maine baseball team (11-25, 6-6) split a Saturday afternoon doubleheader against America East opponent, University of Massachusetts Lowell (17-19, 8-7). The Black Bears used a five-run 10th inning to take Game 1, before falling 1-0 in Game 2.
After a scoreless first inning in Game 1, the Black Bears and River Hawks traded runs in the top of the second. Fourth-year infielder Ben Prada gave the River Hawks their first lead of the contest in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI ground ball. Prada would advance to second on a steal but UMass was unable to accomplish more as they moved into the fifth inning with a 2-1 lead. The lead would not last long thanks to third-year outfielder Colin Ridley. A leadoff double by catcher Christopher Bec quickly gave Maine a runner in scoring position, and Ridley followed with a single to right field to allow Bec to score and tie the game.
The River Hawks quickly regained their lead in the bottom half of the inning after third-year infielder Russ Olive dribbled a single just through the infield to score second-year outfielder Cam Climo and give UMass Lowell a 3-2 edge.
In the top of the sixth, Maine took their third lead of the game at 4-3. Second-year infielder Kevin Doody singled to start things off and second-year catcher Cody Pasic reached base after being hit by a pitch. Both Doody and Pasic would score after second-year first baseman Hernen Sardinas roped a single to right field.
The River Hawks again fought their way back to tie the game at 4-4 in the eighth, forcing the game into extra innings.
In the top of the 10th, Maine quickly seized the lead again. Doody reached base and quickly scored on a single from third-year infielder Jeremy Pena. With two Black Bears on base, third-year infielder Danny Casals hit a three-run home run to give the team some much needed insurance. Bec would add an RBI single to make the score 9-4 going into the bottom of the 10th.
Fourth-year relief pitcher Connor Johnson came in for his second inning of work and was able to close the door in what was a back-and-forth game all afternoon. Johnson tossed two scoreless innings, while second-year Cody Laweryson threw nearly four innings of solid relief for the team as well. Third-year Zach Winn got the start for Maine, and went four and one-third innings on the hill, striking out six batters while allowing one earned run.
The River Hawks had five innings of pitching each from third-years Jack Riley and Nick Rand.
Game 2 proved to be a pitching duel, with the lone run coming off a Maine wild pitch by fourth-year pitcher Jonathan Arel. Prada, who walked to begin the bottom of the third, stole back-to-back bases before crossing home on Arel’s wild pitch. Arel turned in a stellar performance for Maine, throwing six innings of no-hit ball, while striking out 12 and walking three.
The Black Bears managed to score five hits off fourth-year Andrew Ryan, but were unable to gain any consistent momentum. They had runners in scoring position three times in the first five innings, but failed to capitalize. Ryan finished the day with six strikeouts in six innings. Fourth-year reliever Luke Tomczyk came in for the final frame and retired the side in order, earning his first save of the season.
Maine’s comeback bid falls short in Series Finale
A fast start by the River Hawks proved to be too much for the Black Bears in the final game of the series on Sunday afternoon.
UMass Lowell started off strong by plating three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Two of those runs came off a homerun by Olive, who became the second player in the teams division one history to reach double digit home runs in a single season. Olive finished 3-3 with three RBI in the game.
Maine’s first runs came in the third, when Casals drove in pair on a single to left. Maine would add a run on an RBI groundout to cut the River Hawks lead to 4-3.
UML would storm back with four more runs in the bottom of the the third, taking advantage of two miscues made in the Maine outfield. Olive added to his already strong day by driving in the final run of the inning on a double. UML would tack on another run in the bottom of the fourth and take a commanding 9-3 lead going into the fifth.
A two-run double by Pasic brought Maine to within three in the fifth and they made it a one run game when Doody drove in fourth-year Brandon Vicens on a single. The Black Bears were unable to get any more runs on the day, however, and fell by a final of 9-8.
The win put the River Hawks in second place in the conference, while a loss finds Maine in fifth.
UML will be back on action at home against Boston College on Wednesday with a 4 p.m. start.
Maine will also return to the field on Wednesday, with a home matchup against Bowdoin slated for a 7 p.m. first pitch.