When this tournament began back on Wednesday afternoon, the first game pitted Albany VS, Maine. My how things have changed since. On that day it was the Great Danes who advanced to come away with a 3-0 victory.
On Saturday night, it was the Black Bears who flexed their muscles vs Albany with a 13-hit attack as every player in the starting lineup got at least one hit, to go along with relief pitching that was good enough to help Maine send their fourth team home for the summer, 12-5 over Albany.
If they can pull it off, and they would have to win twice on Sunday against Maryland-Baltimore County to do so, they would become only the second team in tourney history to lose their first game and come all the way back to win the event. The other team to do it was Binghamton back in 2014.
Albany did jump out to a 2-0 first-inning lead, thanks in large part to the wildest of Maine starting pitcher Zach Winn. He lasted only 0.2 of an inning giving up four walks, one hit was a bunt single, there was a throwing error mix in as well. All told, the Great Danes score twice and had a 2-0 lead.
After that, it was all Maine as they tie the game in the top of the second after the first two hitters reached on a walk and hit and run single against starter Ray Weber. Maine 1st baseman Herman Sardinas drove one in with a single to right, then Cody Pasic tied the game with a Sac Fly to RF. In the blink of an eye, the game was tied at 2-2.
The Black Bears took the lead for good in the fourth against Weber. A Jonathan Bennett single followed by a sac bunt, led to Sardinas coming through again. This time he roped a double to left field scoring Bennett making it 3-2 Maine, and the end of the night for Weber.
What Albany could not get, Maine was getting in the form of Eddie Emerson who took over for Winn and gave Maine quality work out of the pen. He went seven innings giving up six hits and three runs to pick up his third win of the season versus no defeats.
While Emerson was taking care of things on the mound, his mates were doing so at the dish. The Black Bears scored four times in the fifth off of the Great Danes pen. The key hits were a RBI single from Bennett, a two-run double off the bat of Brandon Vicens, and a triple from Cody Krebs. It was 7-2 Maine halfway through.
Albany tried to chip away, getting a run in both the fifth and six innings. But Maine answered them every time. A three-run sixth was followed by a two-run seventh highlighted by a booming HR of the bat of Jeremy Pena off the scoreboard in left. The bomb was a two-run shot and his sixth of the season. Through seven it was 12-4 Black Bears.
Albany added one more in the eighth to make the final score 12-5. The finals are set as UMBC and Maine will play on Sunday for the conference title and a berth in the NCAA field of 64.
For the Black Bears, they must beat Maryland-Baltimore County twice to win the championship, first pitch is set for 1 pm.
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