ORONO, Maine -- Hartford swept its first league series of the season, taking the series finale against the Maine Black Bears by a 2-1 margin on Monday afternoon at Mahaney Diamond. The Hawks improve to 16-10 overall and are now 5-2 in the America East and in second place heading into a bye weekend.
Senior catcher James Alfonso drove in the game-winning run for his squad, knocking in junior Brady Sheetz who led off the ninth inning with a double down the right-field line. Alfonso also doubled, with his two-bagger heading into left field. The Hawks finished with five total hits led by Sheetz who finished 2-for-4 at the plate. The remaining three hits came from different players.
Hartford starter David Drouin pitched seven innings, allowing the lone Maine run in a no-decision. Drouin, a rookie right hander, gave up six hits and walked one batter while striking out a career-high seven batters. After giving up his sixth hit of the game in the fourth inning, Drouin settled in to retire 11 batters in a row before being lifted for Sam McKay, who earned his fourth victory of the season. McKay would pitch one inning of relief and retire all three batters he faced in order. Senior Alex Gouin came in to close out the contest, recording his league-leading seventh save of the season.
Hartford needed to work from behind for much of the game, allowing a single run in the bottom of the third inning thanks to three consecutive singles with two outs. Sam Balzano recorded the third hit, a single up the middle, which drove in Shane Bussey for the Black Bears only run.
The first 14 Hawks at the plate were retired in order by Maine's starting pitcher, Jeff Gelinas, who completed seven scoreless innings allowing two hits and striking out seven without walking a batter. That first hit for Hartford came from designated hitter Billy Walker, but he would end the inning stranded on first.
The Hawks would threaten again in the seventh but leave a pair of runners aboard. Hartford would then break through in the eighth with a single run, tying the game at one, leaving the go-ahead run stranded 90 feet away. Center fielder Chris DelDebbio led off the inning with a triple, his first of the year, lifting a pitch into the gap in right center. He would then score on the next at bat, a fielder's choice off the stick of Brian Estevez with the play at the plate off the mark.
After leaving Estevez stranded at third to end the eighth, Sheetz and Alfonso capitalized in the ninth off of reliever Jacob Gosselin-Deschesnes, who suffered his second loss in as many decisions in 2014. He would be tagged with allowing both Hartford runs on three hits.