John Arel of the University of Maine, pictured during a 2017 America East tournament game in Lowell, Massachusetts, has been the Black Bears' most consistent pitcher this season. Credit: Brandon Poli | UMaine athletics

Time is running out on the University of Maine baseball team.

The Black Bears are now only a half-game out of last place in America East and the team that finishes last will not qualify for the six-team, double-elimination conference tournament.

Compounding the Black Bears’ plight is the fact they’re hosting the tournament (May 23-27) for the first time in 14 years.

UMaine hosts last-place Binghamton in a crucial three-game league series this weekend. The Black Bears (12-28, 6-9 AE) and Bearcats (13-25-1, 7-11 AE) play a noon doubleheader on Saturday and a single game on Sunday at 11.

UMaine has only six league games remaining after this weekend.

The Black Bears had lost five consecutive games before erupting for a season-high 26 hits, eight homers and 24 runs in Wednesday’s 24-5 non-conference win at the University of Massachusetts.

They will look to build on that momentum this weekend.

UMaine has been inconsistent offensively. The Bears have been held to two runs or less 12 times in 40 games.

The Black Bears also must get steadier performances from their starting pitchers.

Zach Winn and John Arel each gave up seven earned runs in 2 2/3 and 3 1/3 innings, respectively, last weekend in losses to the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Arel has been the most consistent of the starters as he no-hit UMass Lowell in a 1-0 loss in his previous outing.

Reliever Cody Laweryson, starting in place of Nick Silva, held UMBC to just one run through five innings of a 5-2 loss before surrendering four in the sixth.

A positive for both UMaine and Binghamton is the logjam in the conference with five teams separated by just two games.

Albany is 7-8 in conference play, one game ahead of UMaine and one and a half-game ahead of Binghamton, while Stony Brook and UMass Lowell are both 9-9.

Hartford leads the conference at 10-5 and UMBC is second at 9-6.

UMaines finishes up the regular season with a three-game set at Albany and three at home against Hartford.

Follow BDN Maine Sports on Facebook for the latest in Maine high school and college sports.