Sometimes the experience trumps a few losses.

The University of Maine baseball team was swept in a four-game series at nationally ranked Oregon State last week, suffering losses of 18-3, 7-5, 12-2, and 2-1.

But the value of facing that level of competition? Priceless, said Maine Coach Steve Trimper.

Maine (7-12) is scheduled to open at home this weekend with a four-game series against Lehigh, and the Black Bears will draw on lessons learned in Corvallis.

“It was tough but it was outstanding,” said Trimper. “Out of all the years I’ve been coaching, that was hands down the best college pitching staff I’ve ever seen. They could all be big-time pitchers. Starters. Bullpen. Closers.

“We took a lot out of it. Playing against a staff like that makes you become a better hitter.”

Agreed, said first baseman-outfielder Joey Martin, a former Portland High standout.

“It made us step up our entire game,” said Martin, who is hitting .367. “We lost two games by a lot. But the close ones, we needed to do everything right to be in those games.

“If we pitch and play defense the way we did in the 2-1 game? We were one hit away (from a win).”

Maine will try to improve on last year’s record of 32-23 overall, 13-11 America East, which left them out of the playoffs. The conference will have two divisions this year — Red and White — with the top four teams advancing to the league championship, regardless of division.

Maine hopes to qualify for the tournament for the first time since 2007.

“Last year was tough for us. We won a lot of games, then got to conference (play) and hiccuped a little bit,” said junior pitcher Matt Jebb. “This year I’m hoping after playing all of this good competition we can put up some good numbers, win the conference and go to the (NCAA) regionals.”

Maine was chosen to win the league championship in a preseason coaches’ poll.

“We’re built similarly to last year’s team,” said Trimper. “Our offense is not quite as potent; that said, we’re balanced. We’re not going to blow you away as hitters. We’re not power, power, power. We’re not the best arms on the East Coast, but we’re pretty good at everything.”

• A total of 18 Maine football players have undergone postseason surgery or significant rehabilitation since the 2009 season ended. Many will continue to rehab when spring football begins April 8, said Coach Jack Cosgrove.

Quarterback Warren Smith, who had surgery on a broken left foot, will participate. Fullback Jared Turcotte, who underwent two lower abdominal surgeries during the season, is questionable.

“It’s projected (Smith) will be able to be in a noncontact situation. That will enable him to do some things, but not all things,” said Cosgrove.

“Turcotte is still in kind of a week-to-week situation. It doesn’t have a starting point and an ending point like Warren’s does. It would be foolish for us to risk any type of contact, collision or injury in spring practice.”

Linebacker Mark Masterson, who received a medical redshirt recently, underwent surgery on his foot and will be under similar restrictions as Smith.

“We’ll have a lot of guys hanging around playing touch football,” said Cosgrove.

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MAINE

Freshman second baseman John Carey of South Portland was named Little East Conference rookie of the week. Carey is batting .382 with six runs, three doubles, one home run and six RBI to help the Huskies to a 6-3 start.

He has hit safely in seven of nine starts, including five multiple-hit games.

• Freshman lacrosse player Mark White was named LEC rookie of the week after having a hand in five goals in a 16-10 win against Maine Maritime Academy last week.

White, a midfielder, scored three times, including the winner, and had two assists to help the Huskies to their first win. USM (1-2) is scheduled to play St. Joseph’s at 6 p.m. tonight at Memorial Field in Portland.

• Senior midfielder Jess Knight of Alfred was named LEC offensive player of the week in women’s lacrosse after scoring nine goals in the Huskies’ first two games. Knight was the 2009 LEC offensive player of the year.

BOWDOIN

Junior defenseman Kyle Shearer-Hardy was named a first-team All-American by the American Hockey Coaches Association this week.

Shearer-Hardy, a native of Montreal, also was a first-team all-New England Small College Athletic Conference selection.

He led the Polar Bears in scoring with eight goals and 22 assists, and finished as the top-scoring defenseman in the NESCAC. Twelve of his assists were on the power play.

• The women’s tennis team won its fourth straight match with a 7-2 upset of 10th-ranked Chapman University on Sunday. Bowdoin (4-1) is ranked No. 16 in the latest poll after beating three nationally ranked opponents this season.

UNIVERSITY OF NEW ENGLAND

Tyler Thomas, a freshman attack on the men’s lacrosse team, was named The Commonwealth Coast Conference rookie of the week for the third straight week.

Thomas scored five times in a 20-5 win at Guilford College and had one goal and five assists in a 21-10 home victory over Anna Maria.

ST. JOSEPH’S

The Great Northeast Athletic Conference weekly awards included six St. Joseph’s athletes: two women’s lacrosse players, three baseball players, and one men’s lacrosse player.

For women’s lacrosse: Junior midfielder Alyssa Marchant was named GNAC women’s lacrosse player of the week after scoring six goals in three wins to surpass 100 career goals.

Sophomore Taylor Allison was named goalie of the week with a 5.33 goals-against average and .644 save percentage in three games.

For men’s lacrosse: Freshman attack Spencer Hunt was named GNAC rookie of the week with seven goals and two assists in two wins.

For baseball: Junior outfielder Todd Keneborus, a former Cheverus player, was named GNAC player of the week; freshman center fielder Nate Martin of Chebeague Island was named rookie of the week; and sophomore pitcher Sam Murray was named pitcher of the week.

Keneborus went 3 for 5 with a school single-game record nine RBI against New Jersey City in a 20-8 win.

He is hitting .324 with 12 runs and 18 RBI.

Martin went 4 for 9 in the same game and is hitting .333 with five runs, five RBI and five stolen bases.

In a 7-0 win Sunday against St. Joseph’s of Long Island, N.Y., Murray pitched a six-hit shutout with no walks and four strikeouts. He has a 1.93 ERA with no walks allowed over 14 innings.

 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at: jmenendez@pressherald.com