Noah Lewis, Tyler Nielsen and Ryan Scott combined on a three-hit shutout as the University of Maine’s baseball team clinched its second-straight America East regular season championship with a 6-0 win over the New Jersey Institute of Technology on Sunday at Jim Hynes Stadium in Union, New Jersey.
UMaine improved to 26-19 overall and 16-5 in America East while NJIT fell to 20-29 and 9-12, respectively.
The teams split 5-4 games on Friday and Saturday, with UMaine winning Friday and NJIT earning the victory Saturday.
UMaine, which also clinched a first-round bye in the league tournament, has now won six of its seven three-game league series this season.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County could earn a share of the regular season championship as former member Stony Brook did a year ago, but the Retrievers would need Bryant to sweep UMaine in Orono next weekend.
But UMaine would earn the top seed by going 4-2 against UMBC this season
On Sunday, South Portland junior righthander Lewis improved to 6-1 with six innings of two-hit ball, striking out four and walking just one. Junior lefty Nielsen allowed three walks in two innings of work with three strikeouts and sophomore righty Scott gave up a walk and a hit in his inning of work.
UMaine scored the only runs it needed off losing pitcher Joe Georgini (3-6) in the second when Ryan Turenne and Jake Marquez hit sacrifice flies after singles by Connor Goodman, Nick White and Matt McElwain loaded the bases. McElwain’s hit was a bunt.
The Black Bears added three in the fourth on a walk to Goodman and singles by White, McElwain, Turenne (RBI) and Marquez (2 RBIs).
Sophomore first baseman Jeremiah Jenkins blasted his team-leading 18 homer of the season to center field in the fifth. It was also his 70th RBI.
McElwain had three singles for UMaine and White had a pair of base hits.
Kevin Putsky, Ty Sallie and Andrew Elcock each had a base hit for NJIT.
On Saturday, UMaine’s Jake Rainess hit a three-run double in the eighth inning to tie the game 4-4, but the Highlanders won it on Elcock’s sacrifice fly with no outs in the ninth inning after a walk. Ray Ortiz’s double down the left field line and an intentional walk loaded the bases.
Ortiz had two doubles for the winners. Elcock and Ty Sallie each had a pair of singles, and Luke Longo belted his 15th homer of the season, a solo shot.
Quinn McDaniel doubled, singled and walked twice for UMaine. In addition to Rainess, McElwain also had a double.
Grant Purvillat picked up the win for NJIT even though he was touched up for three runs in three innings of work. He is now 3-2. Starter Aidan Kidd allowed just one run on six hits over six innings.
Gianni Gambardella took the loss and is now 5-3. He pitched 6 ⅓ innings of seven-hit, three-run ball in relief of starter Caleb Leys, who lasted just two innings and surrendered two runs.
On Friday, the Black Bears used a three-run, sixth-inning rally to build a 5-1 lead and Justin Baeyens tossed 1 ⅓ innings of hitless, shutout relief to earn his sixth save after the Highlanders had pulled to within 5-4.
Jenkins triggered the sixth-inning rally with a base hit and he continued to third on a Connor Goodman single and ensuing error.
White singled them both in before McElwain drove in White with a base hit.
White and McElwain had three singles apiece for UMaine and Jenkins had two base hits.
McDaniel hit his 11th homer of the season and Rainess walloped his 14th.
Austin Francis singled home a pair of runs in the eighth for NJIT and Ortiz hit his 11th homer of the season, a solo shot in the sixth.
Sophomore righthander Colin Fitzgerald improved to 6-1 with six innings of three-hit, two-run ball. He walked two and struck out three.
Up next: UMaine will travel to play 20th-ranked Boston College in a non-conference game at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday before concluding the regular season by hosting first-year America East member Bryant (Rhode Island) at 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday and at 1 p.m. Saturday. NJIT will visit Albany on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.