BALTIMORE – Sophomore Mark Esposito (Bethany, Conn./Amity Regional) hit a bounding ball to short with two down and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 12th, and all runners were safe, including freshman Andrew Casali (New Canaan, Conn./New Canaan) who came in with the winning run, as the UMBC Baseball team defeated Maine, 7-6, Sunday afternoon at Alumni Field, in the rubber game of the teams' America East series.
The series win is the first for UMBC (5-10, 3-3 AE) against Maine (8-16, 1-2 AE) since the Retrievers joined the America East Conference for the 2004 season.
Redshirt junior Jonny Dierks (Easton, Md./IndependenceFort Scott CC) threw 5.2 innings of shutout ball in relief to win his first career win for the Retrievers. Dierks (1-1) fanned six Black Bear hitters while scattering four hits in the effort.
Charlie Butler (1-2) entered in the eighth inning for Maine to shut down a UMBC rally, but then blew the save in the ninth before taking the loss in the 12th inning.
UMBC starter Riley Stephenson (Frederick, Md./Boonsboro) went three innings for the Retrievers while Maine hurler Scott Heath lasted 4.2 innings as both pitchers took a no-decision.
The guests jumped out to an early lead as Heath drove in the first run of the game on a sac fly in the top of the third. Alex Calbick followed with an RBI double to deep centerfield to score another and Brian Doran then sent a gapper to left-center to push the Maine lead to 3-0. Heath, meanwhile, kept UMBC in check through four innings.
Sophomore reliever Michael Gomez (Nutley, N.J./Don Bosco Prep) stranded two Black Bears on base in the top of the fifth and the Retriever lineup backed up the staff in the bottom half.
Junior Jake Barnes (Annandale, Va./Annandale), who finished the day 3-for-6, led off by slapping a single through the right side and then moved to second on a sac bunt and took third on a wild pitch. Senior Rob McCabe (Philadelphia, Pa./St. Joseph's Prep) then drew a walk and stole second to give UMBC runners on second and third with one out. Casali then gained first on an error and junior Vince Corbi (Medford, N.J./Shawnee) cashed in with a 2-RBI double to right-center. Sophomore Kevin Lachance (Clifton, Va./Centreville) stepped up and stroked a single to left and Casali scored to level the game at 3-3.
Maine retook the lead in the very next frame, however, as Heath smacked a single up the middle and Sam Balzano scored after leading off with a single. The Black Bears added to their lead in the top of the seventh as Shane Bussey and Balzano each drove in a run.
UMBC was able to get one back in the bottom of the eighth as freshman Connor Hax (Bowie, Md./Bishop McNamara) lashed a double to right-center, chasing Barnes all the way around to score from first.
Dierks continued to shut down the Black Bear offense by striking out the side and gave the Retrievers a chance in the ninth.
Lachance started the inning with a lead-off walk and took second on a ground out to third. Following a strike out to put two away, freshman Nick Naumann (Essex, Md./John Carroll) reached on a fielding error by the third baseman to keep the inning alive. Barnes then grounded to short, but the play could not be made, allowing Lachance to score and sending Naumann to third. Hax pulled UMBC level, 6-6, by yanking a single in between the first and second basemen, and the game went to extras.
Neither team could push one across for the next two innings, but Maine threatened in the top of the 12th against Dierks. The right-hander got out of the jam, though, with a swinging strikeout and ground out back to the mound to strand two Black Bears.
In the bottom half, Casali roped a double down the left field line with one out and advanced to third on a wild pitch. He could not advance on a ground out to short, but Lachance was intentionally walked and then freshman Hunter Dolshun (Warwick, N.Y./Warwick Valley) drew a free pass to load the bases. Then, with two out, Esposito chopped a ball to short and all of the runners beat out the play to give UMBC the win.
UMBC now hits the road to face George Washington on in Arlington, Va. this Tuesday before returning home to face Navy on Wednesday at Alumni Field.
- Maine leads the all-time series, 37-6, but UMBC has won three of the last four games between the clubs.
- Today's game was UMBC's first extra-inning contest of the year. The Retrievers were 2-3 when playing "free baseball" in 2013.
- Today's game was also the first extra-inning game in America East play this season.
- Lachance drew three walks on the day.