ORONO, Maine — Scott Heath didn’t have his best “stuff” on Friday night, but when the game was on the line, he made the clutch pitches.

The left-hander from Westbrook allowed two first-inning runs, but worked around 13 hits with an inspired performance that helped the University of Maine edge Binghamton University 3-2 in the second game of an America East doubleheader at Mahaney Diamond.

Heath (5-3) struck out Jake Thomas with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth inning to help the Black Bears complete an important sweep.

“I think our team responded really well,” said Heath, who struck out seven and walked one while throwing 119 pitches.

“The guys just really battled all day and that’s what we’re going to have to do to win and stay in this thing (playoff hunt),” he added.

In the opener, freshman Justin Courtney of also fought through some difficulties to help UMaine win 7-1.

The right-hander from Bangor (4-5) spaced nine hits and allowed only one run in 5⅔ innings, then Logan Fullmer retired all 10 men he faced to earn the save.

Coach Steve Trimper’s team (21-24, 7-9 AE) improved its postseason chances, pushing the Bearcats (17-21-1, 6-13 AE) further into the cellar.

“We’ve got to try to win four of our last six and we got two of those done today and we just have to take care of our own business if we can,” Trimper said.

The teams play the series finale Saturday at 4 p.m.

In the nightcap, Binghamton righty Mike Bunal (4-5) held UMaine hitless through four innings, but the hosts broke through behind Brett Chappell. The junior belted a 2-0 fastball for a home run to left to lead off the fifth.

“That shifted the momentum to onto our side. Then it’s only a one-run game and anything can happen, and we got some more hits,” said Kevin Stypulkowski.

Luke Morrill of South Thomaston followed with a single, moved up on a groundout and scored on Stypulkowski’s double down the right-field line. Brenden Geary walked before a pinch-hit single by Christian Garabedian loaded the bases. Sam Balzano’s RBI single up the middle through a drawn-in infield made it 3-2.

“I knew once we took the lead that I wasn’t coming out, I was finishing the thing,” Heath said of Trimper’s desire to lift him.

He allowed two runs in the first inning and nine hits through three frames, but did not fold. Binghamton stranded 11 runners, six in the first three innings.

No situation was bigger than in the sixth, when Brian Ruby and Paul Rufo hit one-out singles, bringing pitching coach J.P. Pyne out of the dugout for a conference at the mound to help settle Heath down.

He struck out Zach Blanden, but walked C.J. Krowiak to load the bases. That brought up Thomas, who already had two doubles and a single.

“He’s a good friend of mine,” Heath said of Thomas. “I didn’t want him to be up in that situation, but I made some good pitches to him.”

Heath threw a couple of tantalizing curveballs, but finally snuck the fastball by Thomas for the strikeout.

“That one felt really good,” Heath said.

Binghamton scored twice in the first on doubles by Thomas and Brendan Skidmore.

A double-play ball helped Heath avoid damage in the second, then he escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the third.

“Scott really battled,” Chappell said.

In the opener, Courtney struck out four, walked two and hit a batter while lowering his team-best earned run average to 3.09.

He pitched out of trouble in each of the first three innings and was staked to a 4-0 lead that held up with the help of Fullmer.

“Throwing a lot early in the game kind of took me out of the game a little earlier than I wanted, but I feel like I gave us a chance to win today,” Courtney said.

Five Black Bears posted two hits, including a two-run home run and a double by Geary and a double, a single and two RBIs by Stypulkowski. Morrill (RBI) and Heath both doubled and a singled and Chappell added two singles.

Jason Agresti doubled, singled and knocked in the only run for Binghamton.

Starter Greg Ostner (1-7) allowed eight hits and four runs (two earned) with three strikeouts in seven innings and the Bearcats committed five errors behind him.

The Bears jumped in front with a two-out rally in the first on singles by Heath and Chappell and a sharp double by Morrill. They added the eventual game-winner in the second inning on Geary’s line-drive double to center field with one out, a groundout and a two-out fielding error by shortstop Skidmore.

Meanwhile, Courtney was forced to extricate himself from frequent trouble. Binghamton had two runners on base in each of the first three innings, but failed to score.

The Bears turned double plays in the first and third innings to help keep the Bearcats off the scoreboard.

UMaine extended the advantage to 4-0 in the fourth with the aid of three errors. Stypulkowski ripped a run-scoring double and later scored on a wild pitch.

The Bearcats finally managed a run in the sixth on Agresti’s double to center, but the hosts tallied three insurance runs in the eighth on Stypulkowski’s RBI single and Geary’s towering, two-run homer to right.

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...