LOWELL, Mass. — Now comes the hard part for the University of Maine baseball team, which hopes to show its resiliency.
It’s win or go home for Maine following a 4-1 loss to Stony Brook on Thursday in the opener of the double-elimination America East tournament at LeLacheur Park.
Maine (24-28) will try to stave off elimination at 2 p.m. Friday when it meets the loser of Thursday’s late game between Hartford and Binghamton.
Maine needs to win out to win the conference title.
“We’ve been in this position before,’’ Coach Steve Trimper said. “We’ll fight back.’’
The Black Bears were hurt by their inability to get the big hit, leaving nine men on base.
Maine left three on in the seventh inning when it loaded the bases on a hit by Colin Gay, and walks to Luke Morrill and Scott Heath.
Stony Brook starter Frankie Vanderka (4-5) appeared to be laboring after he exceeded 100 pitches. However, he got Alex Calbick to hit a foul fly ball to second baseman Robert Chavarria to end the threat.
“When we send a guy up to the plate, we want him to get on, move a runner along or be a producer and we just didn’t get that today,’’ Trimper said. “We just didn’t get the big hit.’’
The Seawolves extended their lead to 4-1 in the eighth following an RBI fielder’s choice by Casey Baker.
In the sixth inning, Maine’s Troy Black belted a one-out double to center, but Vanderka got out of trouble with two infield groundouts.
Too bad for the Black Bears because the Seawolves added a run in the bottom of the sixth. Kevin Courtney was hit by a pitch, took second on a passed ball and scored on a bloop single to left by Casey Baker as Stony Brook moved to a 3-1 edge.
“We see the passed ball different than the umpires,’’ Trimper said. “We thought it ricocheted off the batter and went to the backstop.”
Stony Brook snapped a 1-1 tie in the second inning. Consecutive doubles by Baker and Anthony Italiano gave the Seawolves a 2-1 lead.
“I got a cutter up to Italiano and when you do that, a good hitting team like Stony Brook makes you pay for mistakes,’’ Maine starter Tommy Lawrence (8-4) said.
Both coaches played for a single run in the first inning.
The Seawolves pushed across a run in the bottom of the first to tie the score at 1-1. Jack Parenty led off the inning by reaching on a bunt single.
Lawrence made a diving stab of the bunt, but his throw was dropped by first baseman Scott Heath, allowing Parenty to reach second.
Parenty was sacrificed to third by Chavarria. He scored on an infield out by Krause.
The Black Bears opened the scoring in the top of the first. Sam Balzano led off the game with a single, was sacrificed to second by Gay and scored on Heath’s single to left.
“We’ll find out (Friday) how resilient we are,’’ said Heath, who will be the starting pitcher for the Black Bears in their elimination game.