Black Bears baseball gets off to rough start

Black Bears drop opener against Winthrop

The Black Bears started off the season with a trip down to Rock Hill, S.C. to play a three-game set with the Winthrop University Eagles. They would drop the season opener Friday afternoon by a 12-5 score.

With two outs in the first inning, second-year third baseman Danny Casals roped a double. Third-year catcher Christopher Bec would drive Casals in with a single, advancing to second on the throw. Bec would later score on another single by third-year designated hitter Jonathan Bennett, putting the Black Bears (0-1) up 2-0 heading into the bottom of the inning.

Winthrop would capitalize on the wildness of third-year starter Justin Courtney. Courtney would walk Eagles first-year leadoff hitter Scout McFalls, plunk second-year second baseman Brandon Fite and walk redshirt fourth-year left fielder Anthony Paulsen. Fourth-year catcher Babe Thomas would rip a double to bring in McFalls and Fite, tying the game at two. Second-year right fielder Hunter Lipscomb brought Paulsen and Thomas home on a Courtney throwing error, running the score 4-2 in favor of Winthrop. A single and a stolen base by Lipscomb later and the Eagles would plate their fifth run of the inning on a sacrifice fly by second-year center fielder Matthew Mulkey. The score would be raised to 6-2 with an RBI triple by redshirt second-year third baseman Jake Sullivan.

A familiar sight would be brought back in the top half of the third inning. With two outs, Casals walked, Bec poked a single and Bennett drove Casals in with a single of his own, cutting into the deficit with a 6-3 score.

Winthrop would add to its lead in the bottom of the third. Lipscomb would lead the inning off with a solo home run, giving the Eagles their four-run lead back at 7-3.

The Eagles would extend the lead in the next inning, when Thomas corked a two out, solo shot to run the score to 8-3. That inning would be it for Courtney (0-1), as he finished the afternoon giving up eight runs (six earned) on six hits, while walking four and striking out four.

With one out in the top of the fifth, fourth-year outfielder Tyler Schwanz would advance all the way to third on a fielding error by Mulkey. Second-year shortstop Jeremy Pena would bring him in on a sacrifice fly to left, making the score 8-4 in favor of the Eagles.

Things did not get any easier for the Black Bears’ new pitcher, first-year Sam McCarthy. Lipscomb would start the inning for the Eagles with a single and McCarthy would then plunk redshirt third-year first baseman Tyler Halstead. After a sacrifice bunt, McCarthy uncorked a wild pitch allowing Lipscomb to score and Halstead to move to third, putting the Eagles up 9-4. McFalls would drive Halstead in with a single to bring the score to 10-4. After a stolen base and a walk, Paulsen would bring home another run with a sacrifice fly to make the score 11-4.

Maine would add another run in the seventh. With one out, Schwanz would rope a double to give the Black Bears some life. With two outs and two runners on base, Bec would drive Schwanz in with another single, bringing the score to 11-5.

The scoring barrage would have one last go courtesy of Winthrop in the bottom of the eighth. Lipscomb would plate shortstop Mitch Spires with a sacrifice fly after Spires tripled with one out. This flyout would bring the score to 12-5, where it would stand.

These two teams will square off again Saturday, Feb. 25 at 3 p.m. at Winthrop Park.

Black Bears disastrous inning dooms hopes of redemption

The Black Bears were back in action on Saturday, looking to settle rebound after a demoralizing loss to Winthrop University down in South Carolina. One bad inning denied them their first win of the season, as they dropped game two of the series 12-5.

A pitchers duel ensued for the first three innings, as redshirt third-year right-handed pitcher Jonah Normandeau locked horns with Winthrop second-year left-handed starting pitcher Thad Harris. It was not until the fourth when either team was able to push any runs across.

Casals opened the inning with a double, later advancing to third on a ground out. Another ground out by third-year center fielder Brandon Vicens would plate Casals, giving the Black Bears a 1-0 lead. After a single by first-year first baseman Hernan Sardinas, Bennett would scamper home as Sardinas was caught in a rundown trying to steal second. This would run the score to 2-0 Black Bears.

Then the gates opened. Winthrop would rally for 11 runs off of three different pitchers. After giving up two walks around a flyout to left, Eagles third-year shortstop Mitch Spires roped a triple to bring in two runs, tying the game at 2. Second-year left hander Eddie Emerson came in to relieve Normandeau and promptly gave up a two run home run to second-year right fielder Hunter Lipscomb, giving the Eagles their first lead of the game 4-2. An error by Pena and another single ran the score to 5-2 in favor of Winthrop. Another single ran the score to 6-2 and would be the end for Emerson.

Things did not get much better for third-year left handed pitcher Connor Johnson, as he battled through control issues within the first few batters, issuing two walks in three batters, including one with the bases loaded to run the score to 7-2. Control continued to be a problem, as Johnson uncorked a wild pitch, allowing another run to score and give the Eagles an 8-2 lead. Thomas would bring two more runs in with a single to bring the score up now to 10-2. After a foul out to right field, Thomas would steal second and then come home to score on a single by Lipscomb, bringing the score to 11-2. The inning would mercifully end as Lipscomb was caught stealing second.

Maine would chip into the deficit in the top of the seventh, when Vicens would lead off with a single. After a strikeout, redshirt second-year infielder Caleb Kerbs would draw a walk and both would move up a base after a wild pitch. Fourth-year outfielder Lou Della Fera drove them both in after an error by Fite, bringing the score to 11-4.

The Eagles would pick up another run in the bottom half of the seventh after a solo homerun by designated hitter Grant English. The lead would extend to 12-4.

Maine was able to pick up a run in the eighth. Bec would open the inning with a single. Bennett would double and then Vicens would single to load the bases with nobody out, giving the Black Bears the perfect rally opportunity. It never came to fruition, as Sardinas struck out, Kerbs drove in Bec with a ground out and Fera struck out. That would be it for Maine, only taking a nibble out the deficit by bringing the score to 12-5.

Normandeau (0-1) went 5.1 innings of work, giving up three runs on three hits while walking four and striking out three.

The Black Bears, having lost both the games of the weekend series, will look to avoid the sweep in game three of the series on Sunday.

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