The University of Maine’s baseball team opened the defense of its America East regular season co-championship in impressive fashion over the weekend.
For the second straight season, the Black Bears swept a three-game series on the road from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, posting 15-7 and 8-7 victories in Saturday’s doubleheader after edging the Retrievers 2-1 on Friday.
UMaine, winner of four straight, improved to 7-10 overall while UMBC is now 6-9 overall and 0-3 in conference play.
On Saturday, the Black Bears built an 8-1 lead with four-run outbursts in the first and fourth innings and held off a UMBC rally to complete the sweep.
Ryan Turenne’s two-run single highlighted the first-inning rally and the Black Bears received RBI singles from Connor Goodman, Colin Plante, Myles Sargent and Mike Pratte in the fourth.
Matt Ryan’s two-run homer for UMBC in the sixth cut the lead to 8-3 and the Retrievers scored four in the eighth before UMaine graduate student transfer Justin Baeyens pitched out of the jam and also worked his way out of a ninth-inning jam.
Tyler Nielsen came on for the Black Bears to start the eighth inning but surrendered two singles and walked a hitter before being replaced by Blaine Cockburn, who struck out the first hitter he faced but hit the next two Retrievers and allowed a run to score.
Baeyens gave up an RBI single to Anthony Swenda and, after striking out the next hitter, forced in a run by issuing a walk. He then got an inning-ending strikeout.
He pitched out of a two-on, two-out jam in the ninth by inducing a fly ball.
South Portland junior righthander Noah Lewis picked up the win with seven innings of five-hit, three-run ball. He struck out seven and walked one.
Sargent had two singles for UMaine with Jake Rainess and Quinn McDaniel each hitting a double.
Ryan had two singles to go with his homer for UMBC and Swenda had a double along with his single.
In the opener, the Black Bears squandered a 5-0 lead but Rainess walloped a three-run homer in the fourth inning of the seven-inning game to snap a 5-5 tie and UMaine added four runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh.
Jeremiah Jenkins had a run-scoring double in the sixth and a three-run homer in the seventh.
Rainess, who also had a single, drove in four runs as did Jenkins. Dylan McNary homered and singled and knocked in three runs. Sargent had two singles and Connor Goodman delivered three runs with a single and a sacrifice fly.
Ryan and Luke Trythall each doubled and singled for UMBC and Swenda hit a two-run homer. Ryan had two RBIs.
Freshman Gianni Gambardella notched the win with 4 ⅓ innings of five-hit, three-run ball. He fanned six and walked two.
On Friday, junior second baseman McDaniel’s two-run homer with one out in the ninth inning broke a scoreless tie and supplied UMaine with the triumph.
Baeyens survived a two-out homer in the bottom of the ninth by Leewood Molessa to earn the save.
Caleb Leys pitched a scoreless eighth to gain the win after Colin Fitzgerald tossed seven innings of one-hit shutout baseball. He struck out seven and walked two.
Luke Johnson threw eight innings of three-hit shutout baseball for UMBC, striking out 12 and not walking anyone.
Sam Daniel absorbed the loss.
Rainess and Jenkins each had doubles for UMaine.
UMaine will travel to Philadelphia for a three-game non-conference series against St. Joseph’s University with games at 3 p.m. on Friday, 1 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday.
UMBC will visit Coppin State on Tuesday at 3 p.m.