CARY, NC – The University of Maine at Presque Isle Owls (0-2) opened their season with a doubleheader against the William Peace Pacers on Wednesday. The Owls dropped two well played games, 6-0 and 3-2 (8 Inn.).
Game 1 – William Peace def. UMPI 6-0
Senior Andrew Bartlett (Damariscotta, ME) kept the Pacer offense off balance in the early going, working three scoreless innings to start the day. It appeared as though he was going to cruise through the fourth before he finally ran into trouble. Will Cunningham ( ) hit a ball down the right field line with two outs. The Pacers' tried to push the envelope and score their baserunner from first. The Owls perfect relay had the runner out, but as Alex Scott slid into home he was able to force the ball from the catcher's mitt, breaking the scoreless tie. Ty Tilson ( ) followed that up with a single to score Cunningham and the Pacers took a 2-0 lead.
They would extend it in the fifth when they would put pressure on the Owls again. This time they would put runners on second and third with no one out and hit a ground ball single with the infield drawn in to score both runners.
The four runs would be more than enough to take game one, as the Owls were held scoreless by five different Pacer pitchers. Jesus Garcia (SO, Jewett City, CT) would go two for three for UMPI. Bartlett pitched well, but would take the loss, pitching five innings, walking just three, but giving up six runs.
Game 2 – William Peace def. UMPI 3-2 (8 Inn.)
The Owls would strike first in the nightcap as Solomon Fast (SO, Phillips, ME) would lead off the inning by reaching on a wild pitch and Saul Nunez (SO, Mapleton, ME) would walk. Another wild pitch would move the runners to second and third, and a balk would plate the first run. Jacob Powell (FR, Frankfort, ME) would follow that up with an RBI single, giving the Owls a 2-0 lead.
Sophomore Matt Curry (Caribou, ME) pitched well, but an error helped the Pacers plate a run in the third. The fifth inning proved to be trouble for Curry, as a couple of base hits and a walk would load the bases. An inside pitch would catch a piece of the hitter, forcing in the tying run. Curry would fight back and get out of the inning.
The Pacers had their opportunity to end the game in the seventh, when a misplayed ball resulted in a lead-off triple for Alex Scott. With the go-ahead runner at third and no outs, the Owls were forced to pull the infield and outfield in. Curry would dig in and induce two ground balls to shortstop and strike out the third batter to get out of the jam, forcing the game to extra innings.
After going down in order in the top half of the inning, Tyler McLaughlin (SO, Fremont, CA) would enter the game in relief. With two outs and a runner on first, McLaughlin looked as though he was going to send the game into the ninth. A lazy fly ball to left center turned to out to be not-so-routine as the setting sun made things tough on the Owls defense. What should have been the third out fell to the ground as the bewildered fielders searched for it in the poorly lit sky, and the winning run raced around the bases from first to give the Pacers a 3-2 victory.
Curry would pitch seven innings, strike out six, and give up just one earned run. McLaughlin would get the tough-luck loss in his relief appearance.
"Our pitchers did an excellent job today and gave us a chance to win some games," said Head Coach Mike Pankow. "The first one was much closer than the final score indicates, and we kind of let the second one slip away. Offensively we need to put a few more things together to be successful."
The Owls return to action on Thursday as they travel to Newport News, Virginia to take on USCAA foe The Apprentice School. First pitch of the doubleheader is scheduled for 1 PM.