Former Valley High star becomes ‘go-to guy’ in bullpen for UMaine baseball team

ORONO, Maine — Cody Laweryson was a pleasant surprise for the University of Maine baseball team in 2017, earning America East All-Rookie Team honors after playing his high school baseball at Class D Upper Kennebec Valley High School in Bingham.

Right-hander Laweryson has picked up where he left off after a summer playing for the Worcester (Massachusetts) Bravehearts of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League.

The all-purpose reliever from Moscow has not allowed a run in his last four appearances spanning 7 1/3 innings. He has given up only three hits with nine strikeouts and no walks.

Laweryson retired 14 hitters in a row before giving up a double in a one-hit, five-inning stint in a 5-2 loss to Stony Brook on Sunday. He struck out five while throwing 56 pitches, 40 for strikes.

In the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Seawolves, he picked up a save in the 4-2 victory with an inning of two-hit relief.

Laweryson (0-1) ranks second on the team with 13 appearances and sports a 2.79 earned run average with two saves. He has allowed 16 hits and six earned runs over 19 1/3 innings with 25 strikeouts and four walks.

Opposing hitters are batting .225 against him.

“I worked on my offspeed pitches for the most part (last summer),” said the 6-foot-3, 175-pound Laweryson. “I can throw my fastball for strikes almost any time. But I’ve got to consistently get my offspeed pitch, which is my slider, in the zone.”

Last season he was 4-2 with a 3.08 ERA. He struck out 40 and walked 14 in 38 innings and made 19 of his 20 appearances in relief.

“He is our go-to guy,” said UMaine head coach Nick Derba. “He is much better than he was last year. His fastball has more velocity and more movement and his slider is much better. And he has added a sinker.”

“He was terrific for them this weekend,” said Stony Brook head coach Matt Senk. “We were swinging the bats great, we had a lot of momentum and he shut us down.”

Laweryson was surprised he was used for five innings on Sunday, his longest outing this season by 2 2/3 innings.

“I was a little more stretched out than usual because my pitch count had been down. But it felt good to throw five innings,” said Laweryson.

Last summer, Laweryson (2.27 ERA) tied for second in the Futures league in wins (5) and strikeouts (62 in 35 2/3 innings).

Derba said he likes the luxury of having a reliable pitcher who can pitch on back-to-back days.

“I just take it hitter by hitter. I focus on getting this guy out and then the next guy,” said Laweryson.

The Black Bears (9-21 overall, 5-4 AE) play three non-league games this week when they travel to New Jersey to play two against host Monmouth University and one against Sacred Heart.

Seawolves like tourney site

The Seawolves are pleased the America East tournament will be held at Mahaney Diamond in Orono this season after four years at LeLacheur Park in Lowell, Mass.

It will be the first time in 14 years that the tourney has been held in Orono.

The six-team, double-elimination affair will be held from May 23-27.

“I love this facility,” said Senk. “I remember when Kosty (Paul Kostacopoulos) was here, it seemed like the tournament was here every year. And they had great turnouts. The venue is awesome and I think they’ll get a lot of people out to watch.”

Stony Brook senior Bobby Honeyman, who went 8-for-10 in the series, thrived at Mahaney.

“I’m looking forward to it. I love playing here,” “They have beautiful facilities. This place is awesome. Once you get past the bus ride, it’s all fun.”

Courtney surgery date set

UMaine senior right-hander Justin Courtney of Bangor said he will have Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery on April 19 at the (James) Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center in Birmingham, Ala.

Courtney, a former freshman All-American and All-America East second-team choice, is expected to be sidelined for 10 to 12 months.

He expects to earn medical redshirt status and should be eligible to pitch for the Black Bears next season.

Courtney, 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA this season, struck out 26 and walked eight and allowed 14 hits in 21 innings. Opponents were hitting only .179 against him.

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