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UMaine baseball splits weekend set

The University of Maine Black Bears Baseball team had a strong showing in a two-game series with the University of Massachusetts Lowell Riverhawks. Friday night in Lowell, the Black Bears won 5-2, while the Riverhawks prevailed by a score of 11-10.

Friday’s game started as a pitchers’ duel. Fourth-year pitcher Geoff Mosseau started for the Black Bears, allowing just one earned run with five strikeouts through his five innings of pitching. On the other side, Riverhawk second-year pitcher Michael Simes threw a solid seven innings with six strikeouts and just one earned run. His lone run came in the seventh inning after a streak of singles by the Black Bears.

With the bases loaded and two outs, second-year catcher Dean O’Neill singled to score third-year first baseman Jeremiah Jenkins. Simes lost his shutout, and he left the game with a score of 2-1 in favor of UMass Lowell.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, UMaine first-year pitcher Owen Wheeler pitched his second consecutive scoreless inning to keep Maine in the game. Wheeler eventually ended up as the winning pitcher, picking up his first collegiate victory.

The Black Bears had a massive offensive surge in the top of the eighth, starting with a single by fourth-year infielder senior Jake Marquez, while first-year infielder Will Burns reached on an error. Jenkins hit an RBI single up the middle to tie the game at two, and first-year infielder Jack Friend hit a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Burns. This gave Maine a 3-2 lead, their first lead of the afternoon. Two batters later, fourth-year utility player Nick White hit a two-run home run to increase the lead to 5-2 after five unanswered runs.

Maine fourth-year pitcher Marshall Smaracko and second-year pitcher Luc Lavigueur posted two scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth. Lavigueur pitched a one-two-three ninth inning to pick up his first save of the season, as the Black Bears won game one.

Saturday’s game was the opposite of a pitchers’ duel. The two teams combined for 21 runs and 32 hits. It was a very action-packed game with a dramatic ending.

The Riverhawks started the game looking for revenge, scoring four runs in the first inning. First-year pitcher Jason Krieger started the game for Maine, allowing eight runs through 5.1 innings. He allowed 12 hits and three walks but struck out three batters.

Maine would slowly chip away at UMass Lowell’s lead, as Jenkins ripped a three-run double to right-center field to score 4-3 after two innings. After a scoreless third inning, the Black Bears exploded on offense in the fourth.

Three singles from O’Neill, fourth-year outfielder Colin Plante, and Burns tied the game at 4-4. Jenkins smacked another RBI double, followed by White, clearing the bases with a three-run home run. 

Even with a new Riverhawk pitcher on the mound, Friend, third-year infielder Myles Sargent, O’Neill, and Plante all combined for singles, scoring two more runs before the final out. A nine-hit and seven-run fourth inning gave the Black Bears a comfortable 10-4 lead.

However, the lead would slowly start to diminish. After the bottom of the fourth inning, the score was 10-5. In the sixth inning, the Riverhawks scored another run, which led to a pitching change for UMaine. Third-year pitcher Ryan Scott took over on the mound and, shortly after, gave up two more runs that Krieger left on base, making the score 10-8. One more UMass Lowell run in the seventh inning brought the game within one run at 10-9.

Still up by a run in the ninth inning, Maine threatened to score again with third-year outfielder Zach Martin at the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. Martin struck out swinging against fourth-year Riverhawk pitcher Zach Fortuna, and the Black Bears stranded three runners.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, UMass Lowell graduate student outfielder Trey Brown tied the game at 10 with an RBI single into left field. One walk later, third-year outfielder Alex Luccini hit the game-winning single into center field to walk off the Black Bears 11-10, officially splitting the weekend series. 

The Black Bears return home to Mahaney Diamond on Friday, April 19, which kicks off a three-game homestand against Rider University.

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