After dropping two straight decisions to Clemson last weekend, the University of Maine baseball team rebounded on Friday night, topping the New Mexico State Aggies by the score of 3-1 in Las Cruces, N.M.
Second-year right-handed pitcher (RHP) and Bangor native Justin Courtney (1-0) got his first start of the season for Maine and pitched seven innings, ending his outing with seven hits, one earned run, two strikeouts, no walks and the win.
Third-year outfielder Tyler Schwanz carried Maine offensively throughout the contest, going three-for-three with one double and two RBI’s.
First-year infielder Danny Casals got on base at the top of the first inning before Schwanz brought him home with his double down the left field line, giving Maine an early 1-0 advantage.
After a scoreless second inning, Schwanz brought in first-year infielder Jeremy Pena on a base hit to centerfield to double the Black Bears lead to 2-0.
Fourth-year infielder Brett Chappell returned the favor in the top of the fifth, hitting a single to the gap in center and bringing in Schwanz to give Maine a 3-0 lead.
Courtney gave up just one run during his outing that came in the bottom of the seventh inning. Third-year infielder Trey Stine earned a base hit, and fourth-year outfielder Cameron Hastings hit a double to left field, bringing in Stine and cutting the Black Bear lead to just two runs.
Fourth-year RHP Charlie Butler came in to relieve Courtney in the eighth inning, forcing a double play and striking out the third batter before handing the reigns to fourth-year closer Logan Fullmer for his second save opportunity of the season.
Fullmer walked one batter, struck out two and forced a ground out to give the Black Bears the 3-1 victory.
Maine played sharp throughout the contest, as the Aggies gave up two errors in the opening game of a three-game weekend series. Maine’s stout pitching left many Aggies stranded on base, as New Mexico State outhit Maine in the contest 9-8, but could only produce one run.
First-year RHP Kyle Bradish (0-1) got the start for the Aggies and pitched well in his first collegiate start. Bradish finished with three walks, seven strikeouts and three earned runs in six innings pitched.
Black Bears give up seven runs in two innings, fall 7-3
In the matinee game of Saturday’s doubleheader, third-year RHP Jeff Gelinas (0-2) struggled mightily, giving up five hits and seven earned runs in 1 and 1/3 innings of work as the Black Bears fell 7-3 to New Mexico State.
The Aggies were led by third-year designated hitter Austin Botello, who had a great night at the plate. Botello had three hits, two RBIs and two runs scored in the contest.
Despite the rough start for Maine, Gelinas was relieved by second-year RHP John Arel, who had a stellar 6 and 2/3 innings of work. Arel pitched the rest of the contest for the Black Bears and gave up just five hits with nine strikeouts and only one walk.
His counterpart, third-year RHP Matthew McHugh (2-0), devastated the Black Bears batting lineup, pitching 5 and 1/3 innings and giving up just five hits and two earned runs.
While Maine had trouble scoring, Schwanz and third-year outfielder Jake Osborne both belted solo homeruns in game one. For Schwanz, it was his team-leading second home run of the season.
Casals scored for Maine in the top of the first inning, stealing home on a strikeout play where Maine advanced its runners on the corners. Pena was caught stealing second base, but Casals took off from third after the Aggies catcher made his throw, giving Maine the early one-run advantage.
Gelinas struggled in the bottom of the first inning, giving up three quick runs in the Aggies first sequence at bat. Stine, Botello and third-year infielder LJ Hatch all had base hits to lead off the inning.
Third-year outfielder Dan Hetzel hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Hatch to knot the score at 1-1. Fourth-year outfielder Joseph Koerper followed with a single to centerfield, bringing in Stine and Botello to take a 3-1 lead.
Hatch and third-year outfielder Daniel Johnson had leadoff hits in the bottom of the second, paving the way for what would be a four-run inning for New Mexico State. Botello would hit a single to right field for two RBIs, bringing in Hatch and Daniel Johnson to take a 5-1 lead. Hetzel added a double down the left field line to bring in Stine, and third-year outfielder Tommy Bell would fly out to center field, allowing Botello to tag up and beat the throw to home plate. The Aggies would take a commanding 7-1 lead into the third inning.
Maine’s only remaining scores came on the solo shots by Schwanz and Osborne. Arel kept the Black Bears in the contest after the rough start through the first two innings. After a powerful start to game one of the weekend series, Maine struggled to find runs in their batting order and fell by the score of 7-3.
Fishback lifts New Mexico in 3-2 win
Maine lost on the backend of the doubleheader as well, falling to the Aggies by the score of 3-2 on Saturday night. Second-year RHP Jonah Normandeau got the start for Maine, giving up just five hits and two earned runs in four innings of work with three strikeouts.
Aggies third-year RHP Marcel Renteria bested Normandeau with six strikeouts and only one earned run in five innings on the mound, but didn’t earn the decision.
Second-year catcher Mason Fishback won the game for the Aggies in the bottom of the seventh inning in walk-off fashion. After Hetzel, Hatch and third-year outfielder Greg Popylisen lead off the inning with base hits, Fishback hit into a fielder’s choice RBI. Hatch was out at second, Hetzel advanced to third and Popylisen came in to score the game-winning run for New Mexico State to win 3-2.
Neither team could tally a run until the top of the fifth inning, when Maine took a 2-0 lead. Fourth-year first baseman Brenden Geary earned an RBI on a groundout to short, bringing in Chappell for a 1-0 Maine lead.
Fourth-year catcher Jonathan Salcedo singled to left field later in the inning to bring home fourth-year designated hitter Kevin Stypulkowski and double the Maine advantage. Stine made an error on the play, resulting in an unearned run.
New Mexico State responded in the bottom half of the inning, knotting the score with two runs of their own. Hetzel was walked with the bases loaded to begin the inning, trimming the Black Bears lead. Hatch grounded out to second base but brought in Stine to knot the score at 2-2.
Third-year closer Brett Worthen (2-0) earned the decision for New Mexico State, pitching the final inning of the contest. In one inning of work, Worthen gave up no hits or earned runs and struck out two Black Bears batters.
Butler (0-1) relieved Normandeau and pitched the final 2 and 2/3 innings, giving up one earned run on Fishback’s fielder’s choice hit to win the game. He gave up just two hits and added one strikeout in his second relief outing on the weekend.
Maine struggled to connect at the plate again in game two, failing to find offensive consistency against the Aggies pitching rotation. No Maine batters were able to reach base for the remainder of the contest as the Black Bears fell in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader by a 3-2 score.
Maine returns the favor with 13-3 win
The Black Bears found their swing in the fourth and final game of the weekend series, dominating the Aggies by the score of 13-3 on Sunday afternoon. The Black Bears batted .390 collectively as a team and first-year RHP Nick Silva (1-0) controlled the Aggies lineup through 4 and 2/3 innings to earn the win.
Maine was swinging out of the gates, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning. Schwanz singled to right field, bringing in Pena for a 1-0 lead. Chappell hit a sacrifice fly to center field, allowing Casals to tag up and run home for a 2-0 Maine advantage.
New Mexico State responded with a three-run third inning to take the lead before the Black Bears truly came alive. Black Bears second-year starting RHP Chris Murphy found himself in trouble in the bottom of the third inning with the bases loaded, walking Hetzel to bring in first-year catcher Jason Bush to put the Aggies on the board.
Stine followed up with a double deep to right field, bringing in two runners and giving New Mexico State a 3-2 lead.
From then onward it was all Maine, who scored 11 unanswered runs in the final six innings of the contest to split the weekend series. First-year outfielder Colin Ridley hit a fly out to bring in Stypulkowski and knot the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the fourth. Osborne gave Maine the lead when he singled to left field to bring in Geary, giving Maine a 4-3 advantage.
Chappell earned another RBI when he hit a single in the bottom of the fifth and extended the Black Bears lead to two runs.
Maine notched four runs in the bottom of the sixth, removing any hope the Aggies had of fighting their way back into the contest. Schwanz singled to center field to bring in Pena, and Stypulkowski singled to left field for two RBIs to bring Maine’s lead to 8-3. Casals was able to advance to home plate on a wild pitch before the end of the inning, giving Maine a 9-3 lead heading into the seventh stanza.
Pena, Stypulkowski and second-year infielder Alex Cabrera would all tally RBIs before the end of the contest, as Maine would go on to win 13-3.
New Mexico State committed a staggering four errors in the contest, while the Black Bears made just one mistake defensively.
Maine outhit the Aggies in the contest 16-5. Maine’s rotation of Murphy, Silva, second-year RHP Eddie Emerson and second-year left-handed closer Connor Johnson combined for just three earned runs and seven strikeouts.
Third-year RHP Dalton Shalberg (0-1) earned the loss for the Aggies, pitching just 3 and 1/3 innings and giving up three earned runs and six hits.
After the weekend series, Maine moves to 3-4 on the season while New Mexico moves to 4-2. Maine returns to action on March 4 when they play St. Bonaventure in Port Charlotte, Fla. The opening pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m.