The University of Maine baseball team jumped out to a lead with three runs in the top of the second inning against Stony Brook in its rain-delayed elimination game at the America East Tournament on Saturday.
But then the roof caved in on the Black Bears.
Stony Brook answered with six runs in the bottom of the second en route to stringing together 13 unanswered runs en route to a 15-9 victory to oust the Black Bears from the double-elimination tournament at a cold and windy Joe Nathan Field in Stony Brook, New York.
Stony Brook pounded out 16 hits and scored 10 of the 13 runs with two outs.
“We needed our pitchers to step up but they couldn’t get it done today,” UMaine coach Nick Derba said. “When you’re throwing well, you don’t give up all those two-out runs.”
UMaine (22-22) wound up in the elimination game after the New Jersey Institute of Technology pushed across two unearned runs in the ninth inning of their winners bracket game to win 2-1 on Friday.
Stony Brook (31-18) was scheduled to play unbeaten NJIT (26-22) for the league crown on Sunday but America East officials declared NJIT the champion because the tourney could not be completed on Sunday due to weather.
NJIT earned its first ever NCAA Tourney berth.
The NCAA deadline for completing conference baseball championships was set for 11:59 p.m. Sunday and AE officials determined that its tourney couldn’t be completed by then.
UMaine had used consecutive doubles from Scout Knotts, Joe Bramanti and Jake Marquez and Colin Plante’s run-scoring fielder’s choice to build a 3-0 lead.
But the Seawolves responded by scoring six, two-out runs in the bottom of the second at the expense of America East All-Rookie Team selection Noah Lewis of South Portland.
Stanton Leuthner started the rally with a one-out single and he raced to third on Evan Fox’s base hit. Fox stole second.
Cole Durkan grounded out for the second out but Brad Hipsley walked on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. Brett Paulsen followed with a two-run single and Stony Brook then received RBI singles from John LaRocca, Evan Giordano, Chris Hamilton and John Tuccillo.
Lewis induced Leuthner to ground out to end the inning but that ended his day. Lewis (4-6) allowed seven hits and six runs in his two innings.
The Seawolves reached reliever Jacob Small for three more in fourth when Paulsen singled and scored when an outfield error was committed on LaRocca’s base hit. A Hamilton fielder’s choice produced the second run and singles by Tuccillo and Leuthner (RBI) made it 9-3.
Stony Brook added four more in the fifth at the expense of Peter Kemble and Tyler Nielsen.
Kemble walked the first three hitters he faced before Giordano plated the first run with a sacrifice fly.
Nielsen came on and struck out the first hitter he faced for the second out but Tuccillo produced an RBI single and, following a wild pitch and a walk, Derek Yalon stroked a two-run single that made it 13-3.
UMaine rallied for six unearned runs in the eighth thanks to four Stony Brook errors, Colin Plante’s two-run double and Connor Goodman’ RBI single.
But Stony Brook added two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth on Paulsen’s RBI single and a run-producing double steal.
Derba said UMaine showed a lot of fight coming back to make it a four-run game in the eighth.
The Black Bears lost All-America East first-team outfielder and leading hitter Sean Lawlor when he injured his elbow making a throw in the second inning. They were already without starting center fielder and leadoff hitter Jeff Mejia (concussion) and left fielder Knotts was reduced to designated hitter duties due to a sprained ankle.
“It just wasn’t in the cards for us to win it this year,” Derba said. “It’s hard to win without three of your best players.”
Paulsen went 4-for-4 and drove in three runs for Stony Brook. Tuccillo had three hits and two RBIs and Yalon, Leuthner and LaRocca had two hits each.
Brian Herrmann (4-3) went 7 2/3 innings to pick up the win. He gave up seven hits and nine runs but just three were earned. Ben Fero pitched the final 1 1/3 innings.
Bramanti and Plante each doubled and singled for UMaine.