PRESQUE ISLE – The UMPI Baseball Program begins an annual tradition of the Blue-Gold Fall Classic this week. This year's intra-squad competition features an unorthodox set up with three teams competing at once, two teams play the field while one team bats. The winner of the five game series will be the team that scores the most runs overall, with team ERA being the tiebreaker.
The White Team took the early lead in the first matchup. Tommy Collins set up the first run by reaching on an error and later swiping third. Teammate Ryan Thompson drove him in with single into left, and Jordan Perry would score later to make it a 2-0-0 lead. The White Team would add a run in the third when Andrew Bartlett slugged the big hit of the day, a double to the right-center gap that drove in Thompson.
The Gold team would be the first to answer in the middle of the third, when senior Shane Smith drove in two runs with a sharp single. The Blue Team would not be outdone, waiting until the middle of the fourth to get on the board. Brandon LeHay lead off the inning with a single and stole second before Adam Begos moved him to third with a single of his own. Alex Csiernik drove in the first run with a ground out to second, and Lucas Molloy followed with a sacrifice fly to center, making the score 3-2-2. Bartlett drove in a run in the sixth for the White Team, and the Gold Team answered with a run of their own in the sixth with Mitch Thayer driving in Smith. Team Blue was not content and used the bottom of the sixth and last inning of the day to score two runs and tie the White Team in the lead in overall runs at four.
Perhaps the story of the day was the performance of freshman pitcher Brandon LeHay. Getting the start and throwing six innings, he gave up two runs, just one of them earned, while striking out six and walking three. Combined with the scoreless inning from reliever and Lucas Molloy the Blue Team leads the series with four runs and a team ERA of 2.57. The White Team trails because of the tie breaker and has four runs, while the Gold Team is close behind with three runs.
Pacing the hitters, senior Shane Smith of the Gold Squad, went 4-6 with 2 RBI, while Andrew Bartlett of the White Team had two hits in seven at bats with 2 RBI and the Blue Team tandem of LeHay and Adam Begos had 3 hits each.
"I was pleased by today's effort" said Coach Pankow, "in the short time we have had in the fall season the team has really embraced the concepts and philosophy we wish to employ. There were multiple times throughout the day where players were put in tough situations and the situation could have went from bad to worse in a hurry, but our kids stepped up and answered the call, shutting down every rally and potential big inning. Not only am I seeing the leadership and strong play one would expect from the upperclassmen, but I am also seeing talent, promise, and coach ability from the younger players, which will make us a dangerous team in the spring."
The series continues on Tuesday, October 8, at the Presque Isle High School field with the first pitch scheduled for 6:30. The Owls will take a break from the Fall Classic to prepare for the double header against Eastern Maine Community College scheduled for Saturday, October 12 at 11 AM in Bangor. Game three is scheduled for October 15 at 6:30, game four on October 17 at 6:30, and game five is scheduled on October 18 at 1:30.