Baseball Mule-Tilates UMPI
A Colby pitcher pitches.
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Here in Waterville, Maine, we have embraced being part of the great Northeastern wilderness. We take pride in our Outing and Woodsmen's clubs, drive through blizzards to ski at Sugarloaf and even boast that our campus sits at the end of civilization. Having said that, sometimes we forget just how big Maine is.
This past weekend, the University of Maine at Presque Isle (U.M.P.I. or Um-Pea) traveled south (Google Maps claims approximately four hours) to take on the Mules in Waterville. This baseball team from the Canadian border town of Presque Isle has been featured in The New York Times and on ESPN because of its bizarre schedule. Most years, due to weather, U.M.P.I never plays a home game and spends every weekend of the season traveling on the road.
Colby (7-5) welcomed the endearing U.M.P.I (2-13) down into tropical conditions, with mid-70's weather and sunny skies, but then harshly sent the Owls back to Presque Isle without allowing them to score a run in a combined three-game series shutout.
The onslaught started on Friday when Colby took a 13-0 win in the first game. Senior co-captain Matt Moore pitched a complete game two-hit shutout, striking out 10 batters and pitching to just three over the minimum. Moore's dominating performance was backed by offensive firepower up and down the lineup. The infield also had a big day. Third baseman Mike Mastrocola '12 (2 hits, 3 RBI), first baseman and co-captain Ryan Conlon '10 (2 hits, 1HR, 2 RBI) and second baseman John LaMantia '10 (2 hits, 3 runs) broke the game open over the first four innings. Surprising sophomore outfielder Nikolas Atsalis continued on his torrid streak to start the season and finished the game 3-for-3 with three RBI. Atsalis improved his batting average to .632 (12-for-18) with a double and eight RBI in eight games played after the series. Will Greenberg '12 and Taro Gold '12 also had RBI singles in the game.
Recharged from some time off the road, U.M.P.I. came back on Saturday for two more games with a renewed vigor, only to get served a double-dose of Colby mule-tilation, falling to the tune of 16-0 and 13-0. Colby's second ace, Dominick Morrill '11, pitched five innings for the victory in the opener, while Connor Sullivan '12 (3 innings, 2 hits, 1 K) earned the victory in the second game in a contest in which the Mules used five pitchers.
Shortstop Brandon Nieuw '12 went four-for-four in the first game with a walk and was on base for all five of his plate appearances. LaMantia was Kevin Youkilis-esque, slugging two doubles and a triple, while the enigmatic Devlin McConnell '12 cracked a three-run homer for the first time in his collegiate career. John Schroeder '13, splitting time with senior Nick Ruocco behind the plate, also made a statement with three RBI off a two-run single and a sac fly.
The second game of the double-header was more of the same. The Mules jumped out early, scoring 11 runs over the first four innings. Greenberg and Gold each had three hits and two RBI, while Conlon had three hits and one RBI. Mastrocola went three-for-three with four RBI and has now solidified himself as the power bat that Colby sorely needed in the middle of the lineup. Starting all 12 games at third, Mastrocola has a .395 average (17-for-43), seven doubles, one homerun and 17 RBI.
Ultimately, an U.M.P.I. team that has garnered respect for the way it plays the game seemed quite overmatched by the Mules. The Owls only mustered nine hits over the three-game series while Colby put out a whopping 42 runs on the board.
Although it is still early in the season, all signs from this weekend point to a Colby squad that wants to be an elite team in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). This weekend's upcoming series at Tufts University will be a barometer of where the Mules truly stand.