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America East Baseball News & Notes: Good Start for Stony Brook & Maine

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The America East Conference kicked off their league schedule last weekend with Stony Brook and Maine getting off to fast starts. Each team was able to sweep their first series of conference play while Albany and NJIT took two out of three in their opening weekend. Here is how the first weekend of play looked in America East.

The Stony Brook Seawolves (7-12, 3-0 in AE) got off to a great start in their final season in America East. Their weekend sweep of UMass Lowell (4-13, 0-3 in AE) was highlighted by walk-off wins on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, a back and forth game found its way to extra-innings. In the top of the tenth, the River Hawks took a one-run lead thanks to a home run to left field off the bat of catcher Ryan Proto. In the bottom of the tenth, facing Matt Draper and down 6-5, it would take the Seawolves only four pitchers to win the game. Evan Giordano, on a 2-1 pitch, homered to left-center field to tie the game at 6-6. The next batter, Cole Durkin, took a 1-0 pitch and launched it out to left field to give Stony Brook the one-run win, 7-6.

On Sunday, down 9-6 in the bottom of the ninth, Stony Brook staged another rally. This time against Zack Rodgers. With a man aboard and one out, Matt Brown-Eiring homered over the batting eye in center field to make it a one-run game. On the very next pitch, Giordano tied the game with a shot over the fence in left field. After Brendan Patterson shut down the River Hawks in the top of the tenth, Stony Brook finished the comeback in the bottom of the inning. The Seawolves took advantage of wildness from River Hawk reliever Michael Quigley who would walk three batters, including Giordano that forced in the winning run to sweep the weekend 10-9. In the series opener, Stony Brook got a strong starting performance from Ben Fero (6.1 innings) to beat UMass Lowell 6-4. Fero allowed three runs, one earned on six hits. He walked one and struck out a season-high four River Hawks hitters. This weekend Stony Brook takes on Maine.

Maine (6-11,3-0 in AE) got their season off and running with a sweep of Binghamton (3-13, 0-3 in AE). The Black Bears got 6.1 innings from Trevor Labonte (1-1), who gave up three runs while striking out eight. His teammates took care of the offense vs Bearcats starter Thomas Babalis (1-3) who had a rough day on the hill. He allowed eight earned runs in 4.1 innings. Maine banged out nine hits, three of them for extra bases, as they took game one 11-7. Game two was all about the Black Bears bats as they smack 22 hits and scored 19 runs in a 19-9 win. Maine hitters went deep four times and added three doubles. Joe Bramanti hit one of those HRs and drove in four RBI. Sunday’s game was about pitching for Maine. Jordan Schulefand went six innings of one-run ball with five strikeouts. Noah Lewis picked up the save with three innings of no runs and a couple of strikeouts. Bramanti went deep for the second straight day and added three more RBI as the Black Bears completed the sweep with a 7-1 win.

For Binghamton and UMass Lowell, both will get a chance to get back on track this weekend in Lowell as the two teams meet for a three-game series. The Bearcats will be looking to stop a seven-game losing streak. Lowell has a midweek vs Holy Cross before the weekend set with Binghamton. The River Hawks are looking to end a four-game losing streak themselves. Stony Brook and Maine meet in Orono, Maine this weekend. Both teams accounted for 60 runs in last weekend’s wins.

Albany and NJIT both took two out of three to begin their seasons. Albany (11-6, 2-1 in AE) took game one vs UMBC (8-11,1-2 in AE) behind six innings from Ray Weber (1-0) who gave up four hits and zero runs and walked three. Gregg Scherrer came out of the Great Danes pen and worked three innings to pick up the save allowing a run on two hits, two walks, and five strikeouts. Albany broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth on a double by Brad Malm who would later score on an error to give the Great Danes a 2-1 win. Albany took game two in a slugfest, 11-9. A seven-run eighth inning for Albany was the key to the Great Danes winning on Saturday. UMBC pitchers had a difficult time finding home plate as they walked 10 Albany hitters. Will Binder had a big day at the plate going 3-for-4 with four RBI and one run scored. UMBC salvaged the weekend by taking game three on Sunday 10-9. The Retrievers got started in the very first inning when Ian Diaz hit a three-run HR off of Albany starter Connor Eisermann (2-2). UMBC would score four more in the sixth and two in the seventh to fend off Albany. Joe Pucek (2-1), who came on in the sixth, got the win. Evan Selmer recorded his second save of the year.

NJIT (6-9, 2-1 in AE) took two of three from Hartford (1-11, 1-2 in AE). In the series opener, the Highlanders blasted the Hawks 15-1. They bang out 15 hits, six of them for extra bases in getting the win. Ryan Fischer (2-2) got the win going seven innings, giving up two hits, one run, and striking out a career-high 11 Hawks hitters. On offense, David Marcano and Albert Choi each had three hits. Paul Franzoni had two hits and four RBI. On Saturday, Grant Vurpillat (2-1) went eight scoreless innings striking out eight, allowing three hits, and walking two. He would retire 16 straight Hartford batters after giving up a bunt single to the leadoff man in the first. The Highlanders used the long ball to get the win. David Marcano hit a two-run homer in the seventh and Nick Hussey did the same in the eighth. In his last two starts, spanning 14.1 innings, Vurpillat has not given up a run. He has won both of those starts. Hartford took game three on Sunday 7-5. They got HRs from Donnie Cohoon and Derek Tenney (3-run blast). Julio Marcano also went deep for NJIT, his 23rd career home run, which set a new program record. Alec Couture (1-0) picked up his first win as well as helping the team get win number one on the season This weekend, Albany takes on NJIT while UMBC meets Hartford..

The America East Player of the Week is Evan Giordano of Stony Brook. He had a big weekend at the expense of the UMass Lowell pitching staff. He slashed .625/.700//1.125 in a 4-0 week for the Seawolves. The two home runs that he hit in the Lowell series were big as they gave his team a chance to win on Saturday. He drew a bases-loaded walk on Sunday to walk it off. This is his first weekly award.

The AE Pitcher of the Week is Grant Vurpillat of NJIT. The senior southpaw tossed eight shutout innings in getting the win vs Hartford. He allowed three hits and a pair of walks. This is his second weekly award.

The AE Rookie of the Week is Jeremiah Jenkins of Maine. In the sweep of Binghamton, Jenkins scored three runs and drove in three more. In the three-game series, he slashed .308/.333/.462. This is Jenkins’s first weekly award.

That’s all for this week. We will be back next week with more from America East Baseball.

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