LOWELL -- LeLacheur Park was thawed and beautiful at last. The bare spots were painted a grassy green with a fertilizer mix to complete a sunny-and-in-the-60s scene.

Twenty-one games into its inaugural Division 1 baseball season, UMass Lowell on Saturday finally played its home opener.

The River Hawks actually played two on this sunny afternoon, and twice were beaten by the University Maine, 5-4 in the first game, and 3-2 in nine innings in the scheduled seven-inning second game. Eight of 10-12 UMass Lowell's losses have been by one run.

"We've served notice around New England that we're here to play and we're not going to be some walkover win for anybody," said UMass Lowell coach Ken Harring. "But again, I take pride in winning. And we're (only) 10-12."

In the second game, the River Hawks were about to leap into walk-off celebration as junior second baseman Kelly Rooney smacked a sinking liner to center with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the eighth.

"I thought it was 'game over,'" said UMass Lowell junior third baseman Matthew Sanchez. "I was already celebrating that one."

But Maine senior center fielder Colin Gay made a diving catch to keep the game going at 2-2.

Then in the top of the ninth, Gay had a two-out single and eventually scored the go-ahead run on a hard single up the middle off diving second baseman Rooney's glove.

This long afternoon ended with River Hawks stranded at first and third. UMass Lowell fell to 3-4 in the America East Conference. The River Hawks are 2-10 overall since their stunning 8-2 beginning as a Division 1 program. The reversal of fortune has included losing 1-0 at Yale on a suicide squeeze despite UMass Lowell pitching a combined no-hitter, and an 8-7 loss at Albany in which UMass Lowell led 7-0 before falling on a three-run walk-off homer.

"We're scrapping. We're in games. We're competing. We just need somebody to step up and loop a ball in somewhere," said Harring.

"We will turn this corner," said Harring. "Some of these one-run games will turn in our favor."

UMass Lowell and Maine play one game on Sunday at LeLacheur at 1 p.m.

Storied Maine, last season's America East regular-season champion, improved to 12-19 (3-5 America East). The Black Bears started their season 1-7, a stretch that included three games against both Miami and Clemson. The Black Bears beat Miami, 3-1, in their second game of the season.

On Saturday, Maine scored three runs in the top of the first inning of the first game, helped by a UMass Lowell throwing error on a sacrifice bunt. The River Hawks never caught up.

Joe Consolmagno ripped a two-run double in the eighth to cut it to 5-4. Sophomore right-hander Charlie Butler relieved Maine starter Tommy Lawrence and retired the final four UMass Lowell batters of the game (2 strikeouts).

Lawrence, a junior right-hander from West Haven, Conn., threw 123 pitches over 7.2 innings (10h, 4r, 3er, 2bb, 9k). He was last season's America East Pitcher of the Year, going 11-3 with a 2.32 ERA. Lawrence is 3-4, 4.61 this season.

UMass Lowell's first-game starter, senior right-hander Shane Beauchemin (2-2, 4.75) gave up five hits through nine batters faced, but battled on through seven innings (10h, 5r, 3er, 1bb, 2k, 101 pitches).

In the second game, UMass Lowell senior right-hander Mike Calzetta fell behind, 1-0 in the first inning and 2-0 in the second. Calzetta (2-1, 2.94) settled in to go 6.1 innings, allowing those two runs on seven hits, walking one and striking out four.

At the plate for UMass Lowell, Luke Reynolds went 4-for-9 in the doubleheader (now batting .309) and Sanchez went 4-for-10 (now batting .333).

UMass Lowell hitter Joe Consolmagno takes this pitch and watches it sail into Maine catcher Jonathan Salcedo’s mitt during Saturday’s UML home
UMass Lowell hitter Joe Consolmagno takes this pitch and watches it sail into Maine catcher Jonathan Salcedo's mitt during Saturday's UML home opener. SUN/BOB WHITAKER

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 The River Hawks had 10 hits in the first game and 12 in the second.

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