Resilient UMaine baseball team rallies to sweep Albany and earn tourney spot
Might 23—Dealing with frustrating chances, the University of Maine baseball group received the America East Competition thanks to a Saturday it will always remember.
The Black Bears went into the day requiring to sweep Albany at Mahaney Diamond in Orono and have Hartford publish a doubleheader sweep at UMass Lowell.
Which’s precisely what occurred.
The Black Bears were one strike far from being gotten rid of, however Connor Goodman grounded a two-run single to top a three-run seventh-inning rally that provided the Black Bears a 6-5 win over Albany in the very first video game of their doubleheader sweep.
UMaine thrived 4-2 in the nightcap behind freshman lefty Tyler Nielsen’s 6 innings of three-hit nothing pitching and Matt Pushard’s 3 innings of four-hit, two-run relief.
On the other hand, Hartford beat UMass Lowell 3-0 in the opener and constructed a 6-0 lead in the nightcap prior to holding on for a 7-5 win.
Considering that UMaine’s doubleheader began an hour prior to the Hartford-UMass Lowell twinbill, Black Bear gamers nervously enjoyed the 2nd video game in Hartford from the Palmer Lounge in the Mahaney Clubhouse.
“I am so happy right now. I’m going to send [Hartford coach] Justin Blood some lobsters,” quipped UMaine coach Nick Derba. “I was sick with nerves [watching the game]. I was even biting my nails.
“Now we take a crack at,” he said. “After the other day, the people reacted. They got after it. What else do you desire? I’m actually pleased with them.”
UMaine (16-17 in the conference) will join host Stony Brook (25-10), Albany (20-18) and the New Jersey Institute of Technology (23-17) for the four-team, double-elimination conference tournament that begins Thursday, May 27.
UMass Lowell and Hartford finished 18-20 in the A division which included Albany and UMaine. Stony Brook and NJIT are the B division representatives.
“It was very demanding enjoying that video game,” said UMaine junior pitcher Alex McKenney of Hampden. “We were holding on every pitch. Despite the fact that Hartford led 6-0, we understood there was going to be drama in the last inning.”
“Some people were too worried to see the video game,” said Pushard, a senior reliever from Brewer, who picked up the save in the nightcap.
UMaine hadn’t missed the league tournament since 2009, but Albany’s Friday sweep of the Black Bears left them clinging to the slimmest of hopes.
In Saturday’s first game, McKenney cruised through five scoreless before being torched for six hits and five runs in the sixth. They included Johnny Marti’s third home run in as many games this weekend, a three-run blast to right.
“I made some bad pitches in that inning,” McKenney said.
Lefty reliever Anthony Fusco came on to start the seventh for the Great Danes and struck out Ryan Turenne to open the frame. Colby Emmertz lined a single to left, but shortstop Brad Malm made a sparkling play in the hole to force him at second base on Jake Marquez’s grounder.
UMaine stayed alive when Jake Rainess legged out a check-swing single between first and second to extend the inning.
But it was Albany’s turn for some good fortune when Quinn McDaniel’s potential game-tying, extra-base hit to deep right-center bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double which prevented Rainess from scoring the tying run. Marquez crossed the plate to make it 5-4.
Goodman fell behind 0-2 in the count before grounding his game-winning single up the middle.
“They put me in an area to win the video game and I’m actually pleased,” Goodman said.
He said he takes pride in putting the ball in play when he has two strikes on him. He has struck out only 17 times in 162 at-bats.
“He tossed me a fastball right down the middle. That’s all I required,” Goodman said.
“The something you can state for us is we never ever quit. You saw it today,” Goodman said. “We might have quickly rolled over. However we had the ability to fight back for each other.”
Sean Lawlor’s seventh homer of the season, to right-center, staked UMaine to a 1-0 lead in the second. A Rainess triple delivered a fifth-inning run and McDaniel’s sacrifice fly plated him.
Rainess went 3-for-3, adding a double and a single. Peter Kemble of Bangor picked up the win in relief with a scoreless inning.
Marti, Malm (double) and Marc Wangenstein (doubled) posted two hits apiece for Albany.
In the second game, Nielsen (2-2) struck out five and didn’t walk anyone in his six innings.
“That was a definitely incredible efficiency,” Goodman said.
“The last couple times my things has actually been great, however I didn’t perform appropriately and today I performed actually great,” Nielsen said. “Today was the very first day I felt actually completely in control.”
UMaine took a 1-0 lead in the 3rd on Scout Knotts’ triple and Lawlor’s RBI fielder’s option. The hosts included 2 more in the 5th when McDaniel strolled and runners end up on 2nd and 3rd when losing pitcher Connor Eisenmann tossed large of very first on Goodman’s sacrifice bunt.
Knotts’ sacrifice fly and Lawlor’s single produced the runs.
UMaine made it 4-0 in the seventh when Goodman was struck by a pitch, born down Lawlor’s single and scored on an errant pickoff.
Pushard travelled through the seventh and 8th innings however quit 3 hits and 2 runs in the ninth prior to retiring the side.
Knotts, Lawlor and Turenne had 2 hits each for UMaine while Marti and Jason Bottari had 2 each for Albany. Chase Carroll struck a two-run double in the ninth.
Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.