May 26, 2013

Pitching ace falters in USM loss to Linfield College

By Steve Solloway ssolloway@pressherald.com
Columnist

APPLETON, Wis. - Logan Carman's fastball didn't hop and his breaking pitches didn't fool. He was in trouble quickly and so was the University of Southern Maine.

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Some days you’re celebrating, other days you can only sit in the dugout and watch. Saturday was a sitting day for USM, which now has one loss in the double-elimination NCAA Division III nationals.

Graham Washatka / Special to the Telegram

The ace of the pitching staff gave up five runs in the first inning Saturday and USM went on to a 10-1 loss to Linfield in a winners bracket game of the NCAA Division III national tournament.

USM must beat Webster (Mo.) College at 1 p.m. Sunday to stay alive in the eight-team, double-eliminaion event.

Carman got just two outs before he was relieved by Andrew Richards, the first of nine pitchers Coach Ed Flaherty called in from the bullpen.

Carman took a hard line drive off his pitching forearm last Sunday. He was in the ninth inning of the shutout victory that pushed USM into the national tournament.

He felt discomfort from the bruise all week and had difficulty with his grip.

Carman wouldn't tell Flaherty he couldn't pitch. "He's a competitor," said Flaherty. Meaning if Carman could walk to the mound and throw the baseball, he would pitch.

Afterward, Carman didn't talk about what hurt or how the contusion affected him. "I couldn't locate my pitches."

"He was 8 to 10 miles an hour slower," said Flaherty. "You didn't see the pitcher he is."

Linfield's big first inning started innocently with Tim Wilson beating out a high chopper for a single. Then the batters from the top-ranked small college team in the country started hitting line drives. Jordan Harlow's two-run double was the big hit.

Richards -- who else? -- came in to get the last out of the inning. He pitched a scoreless second before Flaherty decided to save him for another day.

Flaherty used 10 pitchers in all, a tournament record for a game by one team.

"I had to play it by ear," said Flaherty. "We can't use Richards up in a losing situation."

Who pitches Sunday in the game USM must win? Flaherty wasn't sure. He mentioned freshman Tyler Leavitt, who has taken his turn in the pitching rotation throughout the season.

Flaherty also mentioned Ryan Yates, the senior who was No. 2 in the rotation behind Carman.

"We got bumped (Saturday) and bumped pretty good," said Flaherty. "We got behind the 8-ball real early. We've got to get our bats going."

Aaron Thomassen of Linfield held USM to six hits. Forrest Chadwick's home run to left in the fourth accounted for USM's scoring.

Linfield batters simply weren't fooled by USM pitching, getting 17 hits. Five had two hits or more. Designated hitter Jake Wylie hit a two-run homer in the fourth.

"It was getting your pitch," said Wylie. "Picking out the strikes and hitting it."

For Linfield Coach Scott Brosius, the former New York Yankees third baseman, it was an easier game to manage, of course.

"It's just read and react. Keep it pretty simple."

For USM it was anything but simple. With the exception of Chadwick, the lineup couldn't solve Thomassen, who struck out nine. "Getting that lead made my job a lot easier," he said. "He relaxed and threw the strikes USM couldn't hit well."

"I feel confident we can get back into this tournament," said Flaherty. "The longer we can stay in it, the better our chance is to start hitting again."

Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

ssolloway@pressherald.com

Twitter: SteveSolloway

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