As the calendar turns to the month of April, an interesting thing is happening in the America East Baseball Conference. There is some separation between those at the top of the league from those at the bottom. Consider this, teams one thru four have combined to win 13 games in a row. Meanwhile, the bottom three have combined to lose 15 games in a row. Some research would need to be done to find another year where such a difference exists. With that said, let’s take a look at what happened last week in the league.
UMBC, Bryant, and Binghamton all swept their conference series. Maine took two-of-three on the road from St. Joseph of the A-10. These results created a three-way for the top spot between the Bearcats (11-8, 3-0), the Bulldogs (11-8, 3-0), and the Black Bears (9-11, 3-0). The much-anticipated rematch between Binghamton and UMass Lowell (3-17, 0-3) did not have the same punch as the championship game of last year’s conference tournament. Much of that has to do with two teams going in different directions through the first six weeks of the season. The River Hawks have struggled with both their pitching and their offense. On Friday, UMass Lowell would get a two-HR day from leadoff hitter Jacob Humphrey and a four-hit game from LF Alex Luccini. They would have leads on three different occasions in the game. However, it still was not enough to keep the Bearcats from winning the game in 11 innings. A fly ball down the right field line by catcher Kevin Reilly turned into a ground-rule double that scored Nick Roseilli with the game-winning run to give the home team a 5-4 win. The hit came off River Hawks closer Joshua Becker (0-1) and made a winner out of Bearcats closer Jack Collins (1-1). After a Saturday postponement, the two teams played a Sunday DH with Binghamton winning twice to complete the sweep. It was the second weekend in a row that the Bearcats have swept a team at home. Junior OF Tommy Reifler, who had a nice series at the plate out of the number two spot vs the River Hawks, is 37th in the nation in hitting with a .418 BA (28-for-67). He is the only AE hitter that is in the top 50 in the nation in batting average.
Bryant took care of business at home vs NJIT (5-15). On Friday, the two teams played two. In game one, the Bulldogs scored in three of the first four innings to get a 5-2 win. 1B Carmine Petosa had a two-hit game with one being a 2-run home run to right off of Highlanders starter and loser Ryan Fischer. The Bulldogs bullpen shut things down, as Austin Warner threw 3.2 innings of four-hit, four-strikeout baseball to get the win. He is now 2-2. In game two, a four-run sixth was the difference. Three of those runs came off the bat of RF Brian Schaub who homer to left center to give Bryant a 6-3 lead. They would go on to win 7-3. Once again the Bulldogs’ pen got the win. Brett Wichrowski (2-0) went four innings of two-hit, five-strikeout baseball to get the win. On Sunday, Bryant completed the sweep with the help of the long ball. Five HRs led the way to a 15-3 victory. The Bulldogs bashed out 16 hits. Schaub homered twice in the series. 3B John Hosmer also went deep twice, part of a 3-for-4, 6 RBI, 3 RS day. Petosa went deep for the second time on the weekend, 2-for-3, 2 RS, 4 RBI. Jackson Vanesko (2-0) got the win.
UMBC (10-9, 2-3) have won four in a row, three of those wins came at the expense of UAlbany (3-12-1, 0-2). On Friday, the Retrievers and Great Danes played two. UMBC banged out 18 hits, six of them for extra bases. Their big innings were in the seventh when they scored four times, and in the ninth when they plated six. Seven of the nine starting hitters had hit as UMBC won 14-7 in game two. Game one saw UMBC win 10-8 with an 11-hit attack and eight of the nine batters getting hits. Connor Kelly (1-0) got the win as he went four, giving up 4 hits, 4 runs, and 3 earned. On Sunday, a sloppy game was played. The two teams combined to make nine errors. UMBC won 13-9. Eight of the nine hitters had hits. CF Justin Taylor had a three-hit, four-RBI game. 1B Leewood Molessa had a two-hit, four-RBI game. Jayden Sheriel got the win and he is now 2-1. On Wednesday night, UMBC will play Navy at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
The Black Bears (9-11, 3-0) series with St. Joe’s became a slugfest after a well-played Friday afternoon game. The Hawks took game one 3-2, then the Black Bears’ bats came alive. They would score 32 runs over the final two games while their pitching staff allowed 25 runs. Offense was the name of the game on Saturday and Sunday. 2B Quinn McDaniels (5-for-5, 4 RS, 7 RBI, 2 HR) and 1B Jeremiah Jenkins (3-for-6, 2 RS, 6 RBI, 2 HR) were the big bats in this game. The Black Bears had 17 hits in the game winning 17-12. On Sunday the bats did not cool off. 17 more hits for the Black Bears, and an 11-run seventh led them to a 15-13 win. Maine hit three home runs. LF Myles Sargent (3-for-4, 2 RS, 2 RBI 1 HR,1D) and CF Dylan McNary (2-for-4, 2 RS, 3 RBI, 1HR, 1D) were the offensive firepowers. Noah Lewis went six to get his second win of the year.
Quinn McDaniels is off to a good start in the league, and in the country. He is tied for the lead in base on balls with 33 in 24 games. He is also sixth in the nation in on-base percentage at .578. Senior infielder Jack Raines is tied for 34th in the nation with nine hit by pitch. He is 31st in the country in hit-by-pitch per game at .45. UAlbany freshman infielder Victor Mazzara is 40th in the category at .43 (six hit-by-pitch). UMBC OF Ian Diaz is 32nd in on-base with a .527%.
At press time, America East has not named the weekly award winners.
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