Maine baseball set to host America East Tournament

Black Bears will face lowest remaining seed from Wednesday’s opening round winners on Thursday
Updated: May. 24, 2022 at 2:00 PM EDT
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ORONO, Maine (WABI) - It’s America East Baseball Championship Week, and the Maine Black Bears will be welcoming their conference rivals to Orono after earning the tournament’s top seed with a 21-9 record in the league.

Black Bears will face lowest remaining seed from Wednesday’s opening round winners on Thursday
Black Bears will face lowest remaining seed from Wednesday’s opening round winners on Thursday(WABI)

While Maine’s had the top spot wrapped up for some time, the Black Bears will be trying to recapture momentum they had earlier in the spring when they separated themselves in the standings.

Since Maine’s 14-game midseason winning streak, the Black Bears closed America East play with a 3-7 stretch.

“We need to come out and play stronger baseball in the first couple innings. We were down, and it was different for us. We weren’t really playing from behind too many games in the winning stretch that we had,” said Jordan Schulefand, graduate student outfielder/pitcher.

“Win each pitch, and be locked in for each pitch. If we can win pitch by pitch, we win each pitch, we win the majority of pitches throughout the day or game, we have a chance of winning a baseball game,” said Nick Derba, head coach.

Seeing adversity can be a positive as they prepare to host the conference tournament.

“Being down in a game and chasing a couple runs, we were comfortable being in that situation. Sure we didn’t come through this past weekend, but against Albany we trailed in most of those games too. We were able to come from behind, so I think learning how to play from behind is really important too,” said Trevor Labonte, graduate student pitcher.

Experienced players will need to show up in crunch time.

“I think it’s just that top leadership helping the younger guys be relaxed and just continue to do what they need to do,” said Joe Bramanti, graduate student infielder.

A regular season America East Championship is not enough.

“If we’re not dogpiling on Mahaney Diamond on Saturday or Sunday, the season doesn’t matter,” said Derba.

Maine will be facing the lowest surviving seed of Wednesday’s opening round winners featuring NJIT, UMass Lowell, UMBC, and Hartford.

The Black Bears’ tournament opener is set for Thursday at 11 a.m.

Coach Derba mentioned how the team’s overall success depends on winning this weekend’s title, but he’s also been recognized as America East Baseball Coach of the Year. He said while his name’s on the plaque, it’s really an award for the entire baseball staff.

Bramanti added a fun bit of “Keeping Up with the Joneses” he’s got an eye on this weekend. He wants to match his girlfriend Hana Davis’s America East Field Hockey Championship from last fall with a conference crown of his own.

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