Baseball Drops Series Finale With Maine, 7-3

Photo: Nolan Gaige led UAlbany with two hits Sunday afternoon.

BOX SCORE  I  SEASON STATS

ALBANY, N.Y. – In Sunday’s rubber match between the top two teams in the America East Conference standings, the University at Albany baseball team suffered a 7-3 defeat to the visiting Maine Black Bears. The Great Danes fell to 21-19-1 on the season and 14-10 in conference play, while the first-place Black Bears improved to 29-18 overall and 16-7 in the America East.

Maine starting pitcher Mike Connolly (5-3) earned the win, throwing the first six frames, allowing three runs, three hits, six walks, and struck out four. Connolly, who had been the squad’s catcher in both games Saturday, had a no-hitter going into the fifth inning.

Totaling 14 hits on the afternoon, Maine got the bats going early, scoring four runs in the top of the first. The Black Bears strung together six singles in the frame off UAlbany starter Stephen Carey.

Coming out of the bullpen in the second, Derek Zielinski held the Black Bears off until the third when Scott Heath lined a double to right-centerfield and scored on Troy Black’s single through the left side.

In the bottom of the fifth, UAlbany broke onto the board, as D.J. Hoagboon drew a leadoff walk and advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches. Joey Tracy reached, getting hit by a pitch, and senior Nolan Gaige broke up the Connolly’s no-hitter with an RBI single up the middle.

The Great Danes added two more runs in the sixth, making the score 5-3. Connolly loaded the bases after a fielder’s choice, walk, and Hoagboon’s single through the right side. Patiently waiting at the plate, freshman Matt Hinchy drew an RBI walk, and sophomore Craig Lepre brought in another run with a groundout to second.

However, in the top of the eighth, Maine negated the work with two runs of their own. With one out, Fran Whitten lined a solo home run over the right field fence. Andrew Jaurique received a call from the bullpen, but Troy Black’s bunt single and a wild pitch prompted another pitching change, bringing in freshman Ryan Stinar. Maine used a walk and Colin Gay’s single through the left side to take a four-run advantage, 7-3, late in the ballgame.

Reliever D.J. Voisine and the Maine middle infield spoiled UAlbany’s eighth-inning rally with a 6-4-3 double play and groundout to short, ending the side.

In the ninth, Tracy singled through the left side and moved to second on a failed pickoff attempt. However, Maine closer Shaun Coughlin struck out the final two batters, preserving the series win for the Black Bears.

Carey (1-1) took the loss, allowing four runs and six hits, while striking out two in the opening inning. In relief, Zielinski pitched well for UAlbany, tossing six and a third, scattering five hits and two runs, and struck out six.

Offensively, UAlbany totaled five hits in the contest led by Gaige’s 2-for-4 effort with one run batted in.

The Great Danes return to action Wednesday when they close their eight-game home stand with a non-conference contest with Hofstra. First pitch is slated for 3:00 p.m. at Varsity Field. UAlbany will then travel to Stony Brook for a three-game America East series Saturday and Sunday.