SANFORD — The University of Maine made its annual appearance at Goodall Park a successful one.

Freshman Fran Whitten hit a three-run home run in the ninth inning as the Black Bears beat Northeastern 5-2 Tuesday night to run their winning streak to eight games.

Maine improved to 23-21 heading into the final two America East Conference series of the season, both at home.

The Black Bears face Hartford in a three-game series this weekend beginning with a doubleheader Saturday before facing Binghamton in back-to-back doubleheaders May 20-21.

Whitten, a left-handed batter, pulled a 3-2 pitch from reliever Sean Lyons just inside the foul pole but well beyond the fence 295 feet down the line.

The Black Bears had plenty of success against Lyons, the third Northeastern pitcher. Ian Leisenheimer led off the ninth with a walk. Troy Black was hit by a pitch and both runners moved up on a wild pitch.

Up stepped Whitten, who replaced starting catcher Tyler Patzalek in the eighth when Patzalek moved to third.

It was Maine’s second walk-off win of the season — and first by a home run.

“That’s the first homer I’ve hit in a long time,” said Whitten. “I think the pitcher threw me a slider. I just reacted to it.

“It’s good that we kept our streak alive. We want to peak at the right time.”

The other standout at the plate for Maine was senior Joey Martin, the former Portland High standout, who was 2 for 3 and drove in two runs, his team-leading 34th and 35th of the season.

Martin gave the Black Bears a 1-0 lead in the third when he drove home Taylor Lewis from second.

Northeastern (15-29) tied it in the fifth and went ahead 2-1 in the sixth, but Martin made it 2-2 in the eighth with a line-drive single up the middle to score Mike Fransoso, who had singled and advanced to second on a throwing error by pitcher Matt Cook.

Martin, the third batter in Maine’s lineup, is one of the team’s top offensive stars and a tri-captain.

He’s batting .302 with eight doubles, three triples, three home runs and 27 runs scored.

“It’s a long season and I’ve just tried to stay consistent,” said Martin. “From an average standpoint, it’s not the best season I’ve had here, but for everything else, yes.

“The biggest thing for me at the plate is the mental part.”

Three Maine pitchers allowed only two hits, which came in the innings Northeastern scored.

The Huskies’ first run was unearned and their second came on a sacrifice fly by Miller.

Left-hander Kevin Scanlan went five innings, followed by A.J. Baz- danes, then Jonathan Balentina to start the ninth. Balentina got the win.

“That was a well-played game,” said Maine Coach Steve Trimper, “a great way to win it, too. A bunt or a single might have won it for us, but Fran got a good pitch. That’s his fourth homer of the season.

“Scanlan did a great job as the starter. (Bazdanes) has been our fourth starter this season. He’ll be in the bullpen against Hartford this weekend.”

The America East tournament will be played at the highest-seeded school. Maine is in third with a 12-5 conference record. Stony Brook leads at 15-2, followed by Binghamton at 12-4.

“We have a shot to host the tourney,” said Trimper. “If we get some help from Binghamton at Stony Brook this weekend and we win our games, it could happen.”

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: [email protected]