With two other starters sidelined by injuries, Colin Plante was inserted into the University of Maine lineup for Thursday’s America East Tournament opener against Stony Brook.
The freshman right fielder came through for the Black Bears.
Plante threw out a runner at second base in the eighth inning to stymie a potential big inning for the Seawolves and then provided important insurance with a ninth-inning home run as UMaine beat Stony Brook 4-2 at Joe Nathan Field in Stony Brook, New York.
UMaine (22-20) takes on the New Jersey Institute of Technology, a 5-4 winner over Albany, in Friday’s 2:30 p.m. winners’ bracket contest.
Stony Brook (29-18) plays 22-24 Albany at 11 a.m. in an elimination game.
Junior right-hander Nick Sinacola tossed seven innings of five-hit, one-run baseball to pick up his ninth win in 12 decisions. The America East Pitcher of the Year struck out 11, walked two and also hit a batter in outduelling fellow All-America East first-team pitcher Nick DeGennaro (8-3).
“That was a big-time matchup,” UMaine coach Nick Derba said. “Nick didn’t have his best stuff but he was good. He proved he was the best pitcher in the conference.”
Derba pointed out that Sinacola vomited in the dugout in the fourth inning because of the heat and humidity and the staff was concerned about him, but he wanted to continue pitching.
Brewer’s Matt Pushard survived a shaky eighth in which he gave up four hits and a run to collect his third save.
Plante’s opposite-field homer down the left-field line, on a 3-2 pitch, was his first career extra-base hit and snapped an 0-for-20 skid. It came with two outs.
“If there was somebody in scoring position, we were going to pinch-hit for him,” Derba said.
Another freshman, second baseman Quinn McDaniel of Eliot, homered, doubled and scored twice. The home run was his sixth of the season.
“It was nice to see a couple of freshmen step up and do what they did,” Derba said.
McDaniel extended his hitting streak to four games (5-for-15) and he has now hit safely in seven of his last eight games.
Senior first baseman Joe Bramanti cranked his sixth homer of the season for UMaine.
The Black Bears led 3-1 in the eighth when Chris Hamilton hit a one-out double and John Tuccillo singled him home. Brad Hipsley followed with a base hit to right, but Tuccillo rounded second and slipped down. Plante threw to shortstop Jake Marquez, who applied the tag.
“If [Plante] doesn’t make that play, we probably lose the game,” Derba said.
Stanton Leuthner singled but Pushard induced an inning-ending popup and threw a scoreless ninth.
McDaniel doubled and scored on Ryan Turenne’s single in the first. McDaniel homered to center in the fifth and Bramanti homered to right-center in the sixth.
Cole Durkan walloped his fourth homer of the season down the right-field line in the seventh for Stony Brook.
McDaniel was UMaine’s only repeat hitter while Durkan, Hamilton and John LaRocca had two hits apiece for the Seawolves.