WEST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Michael Fransoso (Portsmouth, N.H.) belted three-run home runs in each game of a doubleheader as the University of Maine baseball team swept a pair of games from Hartford on Saturday afternoon in West Hartford, Conn. The Black Bears won the first game 6-3 in eight innings, before taking the second game 7-1. Maine improves to 25-21 on the season and 11-6 in America East play, while Hartford falls to 14-38, 5-15 in conference play.
With the sweep, Maine earns a berth in the 2012 America East Tournament.
The first game was a seesaw affair. Hartford jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Maine got on the board in the top of the fifth inning. Fransoso walked and stole second base. He scored when Tyler Patzalek (Burlington, Ontario) doubled down the left field line.
Maine took its first lead of the game in the top of the sixth inning. With the bases full of Black Bears, Troy Black (Mississauga, Ontario) ripped a two-run single plating Alex Calbick (Burnaby, British Columbia), who has singled, and Fran Whitten (Westborough, Mass.), who had reached on an error.
The Hawks, however, would not go quietly in the bottom of the seventh inning. James Alfonso led off the inning with a double to left center field. He moved to third when Chris Suchy grounded out and scored when Alex Bulger doubled to right center. The Black Bears were able to get out of the inning leaving the potential winning run at third base.
The game, which was scheduled for seven innings, went to the eighth. Justin Leisenheimer (Middle Village, N.Y.) led off the inning with a single and Sam Balzano (Portland, Maine) followed and drew a walk. Black reached on a fielder's choice. Fransoso then jacked a three-run home run over the right field fence, giving the Black Bears the 6-3 lead.
Mike Connolly (Middleborough, Mass.) sent the Hawks down in order in the bottom of the eighth inning to earn the win. Connolly pitched 1.2 innings in relief and allowed just one hit. He improves to 4-5 on the season. Stephen Perakslis (Abington, Mass.) went the first 6.1 innings and allowed three runs on eight hits.
Brian Hunter went 6.1 innings for the Hawks as well He allowed three runs, two of which were earned, on five hits. Austin Barnes went 1.2 innings in relief. He surrendered three runs on five hits and picks up the loss, falling to 1-5 on the season.
In the second game, Maine led from the beginning. Scott Heath (Westbrook, Maine) led off the second inning with a double. Calbick followed with a double, driving Heath home. The Black Bears extended their lead to 3-0 in the top of the third. Black led off the inning with a single up the middle and then stole second base. Fransoso followed with a single and a steal putting runners on second and third. Heath scored when Colin Gay (Franklin, Mass.) singled to shortstop. Fransoso scored on a Patzalek sacrifice fly.
The Black Bears extended their lead to 6-0 in the top of the fourth. Ian Leisenheimer (Middle Village, N.Y.) and Brian Doran (Ayr, Ontario) singled to get on base. Fransoso then blasted his second three-run home run of the day. For Fransoso, it was his fourth homer of the season.
Hartford got its lone run of the game in the bottom of the frame. Simon Kudernatsch singled to center and scored when Brian Hunter doubled down the right field line.
Maine capped the scoring in the top of the sixth inning. Black singled and scored on a Patzalek sacrifice fly.
Maine's Shaun Coughlin (Northford, Conn.), pitching in his home state, was outstanding. He scattered just three hits over seven innings while striking out eight. He improves to 4-4 on the season.
Hunter Englestad was one of fourth Hartford pitchers in the second game. He went just three innings and allowed four runs on six hits. He falls to 1-9.
Maine goes for the series sweep on Sunday when the two teams finish the weekend set with a single game starting at 1 PM.