LOWELL, Mass. — The University of Maine baseball team’s season came to a disappointing end again, and it was a familiar foe that eliminated the Black Bears.
Binghamton defeated Maine 6-3 on Friday at LeLacheur Park on the second day of the America East tournament.
Maine ended with a 24-29 record.
Last year Binghamton beat Maine 4-0 in the America East Conference final. Friday, both teams were trying to stave off elimination and it was the Bearcats who lived to play another day.
What went wrong for Maine? It was pretty much the same things that plagued the Black Bears throughout the season. Maine was inconsistent and unable to get the big hit or the big out.
The Black Bears managed 10 hits but failed to come up with a big inning. Maine scored 44 runs in four games prior to the tournament, but were held to four runs in the two tournament losses.
“We knew we had to win that first game in order to stay out of the loser’s bracket and unfortunately it’s not fun having your season wrap up,” Maine Coach Steve Trimper said. “We’ve got to give credit to Binghamton — there’s four great teams in this tournament and any one could have won it.”
Starting pitcher Scott Heath took the loss for Maine
It was the final game for six Maine seniors: pitchers Shaun Coughlin and Tommy Lawrence, outfielders Colin Gay and Kyle Silva, and infielders Troy Black and Alex Calbick.
Seven of Binghamton’s 14 hits were infield hits, but Shaun McGraw put the finishing touches on the Bearcats’ win with a tremendous home run over the left- field fence that made it 6-3.
“I’ve never seen that before,” shortstop Black said of the seven infield hits. “But that’s baseball.”
Maine failed to build off a 2-0 first-inning lead. Binghamton pitcher Jake Cryts recovered nicely after the first.
Heath scored on an infield single by Black in the eighth inning as the Black Bears pulled to within two runs at 5-3. But Maine could not generate more offense in the inning.
Twice Coughlin, pitching in relief, got ground balls that would have ended the seventh inning. Both went for infield hits and the second one, by Zach Blanden, scored a run that gave Binghamton a 5-2 lead.
Blanden’s sacrifice fly scored pinch-runner Brenden Skidmore to provide Binghamton with a 4-2 advantage in the sixth.
Luck was just not on Maine’s side. After Heath singled in the sixth inning, Calbick drove a deep drive to left that was caught on the warning track. A couple of more feet and it would have been a home run and a one-run lead for the Black Bears.
Binghamton threatend to expand its lead in the fifth after a single by Daniel Nevares and a walk to McGraw put runners on first and second with two outs. Coughlin came on in relief and struck out Reed Ganache to end the inning.
The Bearcats erased a 2-1 deficit in the fourth and took a 3-2 lead. Singles by Ganache and David Schanz preceded a walk to John Howell on a 3-2 count.
Eddie Posavec, the Bearcats’ No. 9 hitter, drove a sharp single to left to score Ganache and Schanz. Heath got out of the jam with an inning-ending double play to keep it a one-run game.
“I didn’t have my best stuff,” Heath said.
Binghamton got a run back in the bottom of the first. Blanden walked and Heath got the next two batters to pop up. He nearly escaped unscathed, but McGraw delivered a sharp single to left to score Blanden.
Maine took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Gay reached on a one-out single and scored on Heath’s triple to right. Black got a clutch two-out single to score Heath with the second run.