ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine’s baseball team is off to its best start in America East play since the 2012 season.
Sophomore left fielder Myles Sargent broke a 3-3 tie with a run-scoring double in the sixth inning and, two batters later, graduate student center fielder Dylan McNary belted a two-run homer as the Black Bears completed a weekend sweep of UMass Lowell with a 6-3 triumph at Mahaney Diamond late Saturday afternoon.
UMaine had swept a Friday doubleheader from the River Hawks 9-3 and 9-8 and are now 6-0 in conference play and 12-11 overall.
The 2012 team won its first seven America East games.
UMaine has now won nine of its last 10 games.
UMass Lowell fell to 4-20 and 0-6, respectively.
“Today was pretty close to a complete game,” said UMaine head coach Nick Derba. “We had some [good] pitching, we made some good plays on defense, no errors, and we put together some quality at-bats.”
South Portland’s Noah Lewis tossed seven innings of six-hit, three-run ball with six strikeouts and two walks before former Oxford Hills of South Paris standout Colton Carson pitched a scoreless eighth and Andrew Chevarie threw a scoreless ninth, after allowing the first two hitters to reach base, for his first save.
“That’s the best I’ve seen Lewis throw. He threw really well,” said UMass Lowell coach Ken Harring.
With the score tied 3-3, freshman Michael Simes came on to pitch the sixth in relief of Nick DiRito (5 innings, 7 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts) for UMass Lowell and issued a lead-off walk to Colin Plante.
Sargent, who had just 26 at-bats last season, rifled a 2-0 pitch inside the left field foul line to deliver the speedy Plante from first with what proved to be the game-winning run.
“I was just trying to hit something hard and he threw me a fastball on the inner half of the plate,” said Sargent.
Josh Becker, a first team All-America East pitcher a year ago who suffered an injury before the season and is now in the bullpen, came on to get Ryan Turenne on a fly out but McNary then walloped his opposite-field two-run homer to right center to give UMaine valuable breathing room. It was his sixth homer of the season.
“I was looking to put the ball in the air to the outfield to get the RBI. Good things happen when you put the ball in play,” said McNary, who had just seven at-bats a year ago for UMaine after transferring from Villanova.
Jeremiah Jenkins’ ninth homer of the season, a two-run shot in the first inning, staked UMaine to a 2-0 lead but two-out RBI singles by Alex Luccini and Gerry Siracusa in the third and fifth innings tied it.
Quinn McDaniel hit his seventh homer of the year in the bottom of the fifth but Ryan Proto tied it for the River Hawks again with an RBI double in the sixth.
McDaniel, Connor Goodman, Plante and McNary all had two hits for UMaine and Siracusa had a pair of hits for UML.
On Friday, Jenkins broke an 8-8 tie with a run-scoring single in the bottom of the eighth inning and graduate student transfer Baeyans pitched two scoreless innings in relief to pick up the win, getting all six outs via the strikeout. He gave up one single.
UMass Lowell had erased an 8-1 deficit with two runs in the fifth, four in the sixth and a run in the seventh on a wild pitch.
But, in the bottom of the eighth, Jake Rainess drew a two-out walk off losing pitcher Brendan Williams, McDaniel singled to right and Jenkins hit an opposite-field single to left.
UMaine scored eight runs in the fourth inning, all after two were out, to take an 8-1 lead.
Six of the runs were unearned.
McNary hit a three-run homer, Goodman had a three-run double and Dean O’Neill produced a two-run single.
Jenkins, Goodman and O’Neill each had two hits for UMaine while Fritz Genther tripled and singled for UMass Lowell and Proto singled twice.
In the seven-inning opener, sophomore righthander Colin Fitzgerald tossed 6 ⅓ innings of four-hit three-run baseball with just one of the runs being earned and UMaine erupted for six runs in the second inning.
McDaniel’s two-run single and Jenkins’ two-run double highlighted the uprising.
UMaine made it 9-0 with three more runs in the fifth on McNary’s run-scoring triple, Rainess’ RBI base hit and Goodman’s sacrifice fly.
Fitzgerald struck out four and walked two before Carson came on and struck out the final two hitters.
McDaniel and Goodman each had two hits for UMaine while Robert Gallagher had two singles for UMass Lowell including a two-run base hit in a three-run seventh inning rally.