ORONO – Maine baseball was full of energy Tuesday morning in anticipation of the America East tournament.
But, there was also an added sense of excitement to that energy because the Black Bears will be hosting the America East tournament for the first time in just over a decade. It’s a chance for Maine to get off the road and play in front of its home fans.
“It seems like we’ve traveled every weekend,” Maine second and third baseman Danny Casals said.
“And having all the teams come to us and playing in front of home fans and our family it’s a blessing and it’s going to be a fun weekend,” he added.
Maine kicks off the tourney Wednesday morning against Stony Brook, the two teams last met up in early April.
“It’s changed. I mean obviously some certain personnel are not available that were available then,” head coach Nick Derba said.
One of those missing pieces is captain and second baseman Caleb Kerbs, who just last week heard the words no college kid expects to hear. “You have cancer.”
“He’s probably the bravest out of all of them about it you know I think there was a lot of fear that hit us. Baseball doesn’t matter, the grand scheme of things really doesn’t matter and we just want him to be healthy and he’s a big part,” Derba said.
Kerbs announced his diagnosis on Instagram saying he caught the cancer early and has started recovery. He won’t be in blue and white this weekend, But will be in Orono in spirit as his squad looks to make a run at an NCAA tournament berth.
“(We’ll) be there for him off the field, he’s there for us on the field you know he’s always pulling for us, but this is life. If you ask Caleb I think he’d have a few choice words if we changed our mindset,” Derba said.
America East also announced its postseason awards Tuesday. Chris Bec and Casals both earned first team honors. Hernen Sardinas, John Arel, and Jeremy Pena earned spots on the second team. Matt Geoffrion made the rookie team.