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Black Bears baseball sweep Hartford Hawks in weekend series

The University of Maine Black Bears baseball faced off against the University of Hartford Hawks in a three-game weekend series.

UMaine entered the series sitting at 18-12 and 11-1 in the conference after beating Division III opponent Thomas College 10-0 in seven innings Thursday. It has not been a good year for Hartford as they entered the series with a 2-25 record, not having won a game since April 1.

The Black Bears started game one with a bang when on the second pitch thrown by second-year pitcher Alec Couture to lead-off man, third-year third baseman Jake Rainess hit a bomb that hit off the scoreboard for a solo home run. This would be followed by third-year Quinn McDaniel stealing second and third on a wild pitch and brought home on a sacrifice fly from fourth-year designated hitter Connor Goodman for the two-run lead after one.

In the third, the Hawks would respond as second-year infielder Devin Kellogg’s sac fly to center field brought first-year outfielder Jackson Ciccone in from third, making it a one-score game. That score would not last long, however, as second-year infielder Jeremiah Jenkins’ double to left field brought McDaniel home. Jenkins would be brought home himself when third-year outfielder Jake Marquez’s single got past the third baseman, staying fair down the left field line, making the score 4-1 after two.

In the sixth, Goodman scored from third due to an errant pitch that got past fifth-year catcher Harrison Engstrom scoring the run. In the seventh, the Hawks would once again respond, this time off of fourth-year infielder Martin Chavarria’s sac fly to center field, bringing first-year infielder JJ Romatzick home. UMaine, however, would put the game away in the bottom of the seventh when Goodman singled Rainess home, giving the Black Bears the 6-2 victory.

Second-year pitcher Colin Fitzgerald continued his strong season for UMaine, pitching seven full innings, and even though he surrendered nine hits, he got out of multiple sticky situations in an impressive performance. Couture pitched six innings surrendering six hits and five runs.

Game two started exactly the same way game one started out as Rainess once again hit a lead-off homerun, this time three pitches in giving the Black Bears the quick 1-0 lead. This would be followed up in the second inning by fifth-year outfielder Matt McElwain hitting his own solo home run that just stayed fair for the two-run lead after two.

It would not be until the ninth inning that another run would be scored, this time by the Hawks’ Engstrom, hitting his own solo home run into left field; however, this would be all Hartford would muster as they fell 2-1.

Second-year pitcher Caleb Leys picked up the victory for UMaine pitching six innings and surrendering just four hits and 11 strikeouts. First-year relief pitcher Gianni Gambardella would come in for the last three innings surrendering just the one hit, that being the home run while picking up the save. Fourth-year pitcher Robert Chaney picked up the loss as he did not play well, surrendering seven hits and recording just three strikeouts in six innings.

Unlike the previous two games, on Sunday it was the Hawks who struck first. In the second inning, Ciccone hit an RBI double into center field and brought third-year catcher Jake Santiago home from second. In the third, Hartford scored once more when Chavarria hit a solo home run into left field, giving the Hawks a surprising 2-0 lead.

In the bottom of the third, however, UMaine tied the game when Goodman brought both Rainess and McDaniel home on an RBI double into deep center field after the outfielders’ throw was not in time, tying the game at two after three innings.

After making quick work of the Hawks’ offense in the fourth, the Black Bears would take their first lead of the ballgame in the bottom of the inning. Fifth-year outfielder Dylan McNary hammered a ball into deep center field for a two-run home run, which made it 4-2. In the seventh, Rainess hit his third home run in three days as he hammered the ball into deep center field, bringing the lead to three.

Hartford was not about to go down without a fight when in the eighth inning, a wild pitch from third-year relief pitcher Geoff Mosseau brought Kellogg in from third. In the same at-bat, Ciccone would ground out at first, though this would bring Santiago in from third, making it just a one-score game going into the ninth. In the final inning, UMaine would call on fifth-year closer Justin Baeyens, who would retire all three batters in a row, winning the game for the Black Bears.

Third-year pitcher Noah Lewis (4-1) picked up the win for UMaine after a strong six innings surrendering two runs on four hits, one walk and 11 strikeouts. Baeyens picked up his fifth save of the season. Second-year pitcher Edwin Almanzar Jr. (0-8) struggled for Hartford, surrendering five runs on eight hits with four walks and just five strikeouts.

The Black Bears will stay at home as they face the 10-24 Merrimack College Warriors this Tuesday and Wednesday with the first pitch being at 4 p.m. both days.

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