With three weekends left in America East baseball, one thing is for sure, the Maine Black Bears (23-14, 18-3 in AE) will not only be hosting the postseason tournament they will be playing in it as well. That’s because last weekend they secured their spot by sweeping the Hartford Hawks and becoming the first team to enter the field. The Black Bears also own the nation’s second-longest active winning streak at 13. Only Columbia has one longer at 19. If you are a fan of the Black Bears, you have to like the way this season has gone to date. Now for some other news in the league.
Although the Black Bears have locked up a spot in the tournament, they have not locked up Division A just yet. They can do that this weekend when they visit the UMass Lowell River Hawks (19-24, 9-12 in AE). These two teams met two weeks ago in Orono, Maine with Maine gaining a sweep of the series by winning both the first game and the last game of that set in walk-off fashion. The scene shifts to LeLacheur Park in Lowell for this weekend series with the River Hawks hoping to return the favor. As head coach Ken Harring of the River Hawks said on Sunday “we owe them.” This matchup will feature the second and third best team batting averages in America East. Maine at .291 and Lowell at .288. Both pitching staffs have an ERA of over six, Lowell at 6.08, and Maine at 6.14. If there is a flaw in the Black Bears game it’s their defense. They ranked next to last in fielding with a .962% ( 51 errors in 1354 chances). They have turned 19 double plays while allowing 45 stolen bases and catching only 15. The River Hawks love to run and they have two guys in the top-10 in the country in Jacob Humphrey (38 steals, one caught stealing) and Robert Gallagher (30 steals, 4 caught stealing). As a team, UMass Lowell is 5th in the country with 108 steals and have been caught 24 times. The River Hawks possess a .967% fielding percentage, (51 errors in 1530 chances) and have turned 25 double plays. Should be a good one in Lowell this weekend.
In Division B, things have become a little more unsettled because Stony Brook, after taking two of three last weekend from NJIT, has now taken over first place in the division. They have opened up a three-game lead on both the Highlanders and Binghamton Bearcats who are both 11-10 in league play. The problem with all of this is that the Seawolves (19-22, 14-7 in AE) are ineligible for the tournament because they informed the league back during the winter sports season that they will be leaving the conference and heading to the CAA in the fall. This weekend’s big series featured the Bearcats and Highlanders. The last time the two teams met was back on April 22-24 with Binghamton taking two of three. This matchup has the top two pitching staff’s in the league going heads up. NJIT has a 5.88 team ERA, and Binghamton is at 5.98 ERA. These staffs are led by Ryan Fischer (7-2, 3.76 ERA, 2 complete games in 11 starts) and Thomas Babalis (3-4, 4.29 ERA, in 11 starts). On offense, David Marcano leads NJIT with a .342 batting average (54-158) and is helped by Jeff Evans at .333 (28-84). Fans in Binghamton are looking forward to this one.
The reason why Ryan Fischer is Pitcher of the Week is simple. Last Friday night vs Stony Brook he threw a complete game as the Highlanders took game one of the weekend, 10-2. Fischer threw 116 pitches while giving up six hits and two runs, one of them was a home run by Paul Franzoni in the seventh. He struck out 14 and did not issue a walk. For Fischer, this is his second award of the season.
The Player and Rookie of the Week are both from Maine. First, the Player of the Week is Quinn McDaniel. In a 4-0 week for the Black Bears, McDaniel hit .400, with four RBI and six stolen bases. In the three-game sweep of Hartford, McDaniels scored seven runs. This is Quinn’s first weekly award. The rookie is Jeremiah Jenkins. In the same week, Jenkins had an OPS of 1.198 and drove in five vs Hartford while scoring three other times. This is Jenkins’s third rookie award and second straight.
That’s it for this week. We will be back next week with more from America East.