America East

America East Baseball News & Notes: A Race for the Tournament

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With three weeks left in the regular season, the standings in the America East Baseball Conference are getting tighter. That is thanks to a weekend sweep by the UAlbany Great Danes over NJIT, and the UMass Lowell River Hawks taking two of three from UMBC. Over the next three weeks, there will be important baseball being played in the league as we near the tournament. So get out and see a game, you will not be disappointed.

The Great Danes (9-28, 6-11) needed a good weekend at home vs NJIT (16-23, 6-6) and that’s exactly what they gave themselves. After winning game one of their series by a 17-11 score, UAlbany would win both Saturday and Sunday games by one run on each day. Saturday’s game took extra innings, 11, in fact. UAlbany forced extras in the eight on sac-fly RBI by Will Binder that tied the game at 5-5. In the eleventh, the Highlanders pushed two across home plate courtesy of a 2-run single by Cam Dillion That gave NJIT a 7-5 lead to the bottom of the eleventh. However, the Great Danes were not done. Facing Aaron Park, UAlbany loaded the bases and then tied the game with back-to-back walks. Park was replaced by Andrew Eppinger who gave up the game-winning hit, an infield single to the right side by Luke Myers that gave UAlbany an 8-7 win.

Sunday was another one-run game. With the game tied at 3-3 in the bottom of the eighth, John Vitucci came through with a bases-clearing double off of Talon Mihalinac. It gave UAlbany a 6-3 lead in the ninth. The Highlanders put a scare into the Great Danes comeback as Kevin Putsky took Luke Boule deep over the wall in right-center to make it a one-run game again at 6-5. But Boule would get it back together and retire the Highlanders to finish off the series sweep. UAlbany now has a four-game winning streak, their best stretch of the season, as they took care of Marist on Tuesday by a 16-5 score. The Great Danes scored in six of the seven innings played as the game was called by a run-rule. UAlbany had 10 hits in the game, only one was for extra bases.

The UMass Lowell River Hawks (20-22, 9-8) hosted UMBC (18-19, 8-7) last weekend. Game one went to the River Hawks 2-0 behind the stellar pitching performance by sophomore Michael Simes who threw a complete game shutout for UMass Lowell. He allowed five hits and struck out four as he outdueled UMBC ace Luke Johnson. The outing by Simes won him his first and this week’s America East Pitcher of the Week award. UMBC won the middle game by a 12-5 score. They erased a 5-1 UMass Lowell lead with a six-run fifth inning, and UMBC banged out 13 hits in the win.

Up 3-0 in the bottom of the eighth Sunday, it looked like UMBC would take the series. It would be the River Hawks that would put together a big inning. A 5-run outburst with the key hit was a double to straightaway center field by Brandon Fish that gave his team a 5-3 lead. Coach Nick Barese called on Zack Fortuna who he thinks “is the best pitcher in the conference” to close out the game. Fortuna did just that by striking out the side in the top of the ninth. He is now 4-0 with a 0.44 ERA after getting Sunday’s win. On Tuesday, the River Hawks picked up a big 7-6 win over Boston College as Connor Kelly had a home run, and Carlos Martinez had three hits, including his 23rd double of the year. For the moment, Martinez leads the country in doubles with those 23.

A team that has really struggled this year, the Maine Black Bears (10-28, 6-8), took two of three at home from the Binghamton Bearcats (17-22, 7-11). Friday’s win was a walk-off for the Black Bears. Maine was down 3-2 in the sixth until Jeremiah Jenkins took John Lumpinski over the right-field fence for a solo HR. The game stayed tied until the bottom of the ninth when Maine’s SS Jeph Hadson-Taylor, facing Lumpinski, hit a sac-fly to left that scored Jake Marquez with the game-winning run in a 4-3 win.

On Saturday, the Black Bears got solid pitching from starter Luc Lavigueur (2-2) who went five innings, gave up four hits, and two earned runs. He walked four, struck out three, and threw three wild pitches. Ryan Scott came out of the Black Bears bullpen and threw four innings of two-hit, one unearned run ball. He also walked one, struck out two, and tossed a wild pitch. The key blow was a 3-run HR by Dean O’Neill in the fourth that gave Maine a 3-1 lead. The home run came off of Nelson Berkwich (2-2) who took the loss after going six innings. On Sunday, Binghamton got some revenge as they hammered Black Bears pitching on their way to a 21-4 win.

Bryant (28-14, 13-2) played non-league baseball as they took to the road to play a series against Pittsburgh of the ACC. The Bulldogs took the first game behind the pitching of Austin Wainer who is now 4-1 on the season. The Bulldogs hit two HRs, Carmine Petosa with a 2-run shot in the 3rd, and then Brandyn Durand hit a 2-run bomb to left in the sixth. Petosa struck again with a 2-run double to left center which at that point made it an 11-2 Bryant lead. The Bulldogs bullpen made things interesting by giving up seven runs over the final three innings but Bryant held on for an 11-9 win. Pittsburgh would go on and win the next two games.

The America East Player of the Week is Jeremiah Jenkins of Maine. In the series vs Binghamton, Jenkins hit .579 with 11 total hits in the series. He slugged 1.421 and had seven RBI, seven runs scored, and hit five home runs. Two of those HRs came in the 4-3 win over the Bearcats.

The America East Rookie of the Week is Cole Campbell of NJIT. This is the second straight week and the fourth time this season he has won the award Last week he slashed .412/.500/.588 for the Highlanders. He also stole four bases. He scored five runs and was 7-for-17 at the plate.

Next week we will be back with more from the America East Conference as the race to Binghamton heats up.

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