WATERVILLE — Colby’s brand new artificial turf baseball field opened Thursday without a speck of dirt on it, not even the mound or the infield cutout portions, which are just as synthetic as the fake grass that surrounds it, only painted brown.

The Mules made the new Coombs Field’s debut a success by playing cleaner defense than the University of Maine at Farmington, which might have made the difference in their see-saw battle.

Sophomore Matt Garcia’s two-out pinch hit single in the bottom of the eighth drove home Andy Currier with the winning run as Colby nipped UMF, 7-6.

Garcia went with a fastball over the outer half of the plate from Beavers’ starter Kyle Peterson and lined it into right field, scoring Currier, who had led off the inning with a walk, from third base.

“I just wanted to be aggressive and get the run in,” Garcia said. “Coach told me (Peterson was throwing) a lot of first-pitch strikes and a lot of first-pitch fastballs, so I went up with that mentality and got the first pitch I saw.”

“He’s an aggressive hitter,” Colby coach Dale Plummer said. “That’s why we put him out there.”

Colby improved to 4-8 while UMF dropped to 8-4. Ben Keene, Grayson Beressi and Riley Chickering led the Beavers with two hits apiece. Currier and Blake Egan had two hits each, including one double each, for the Mules.

The lead changed hands three times and the Beavers battled back to tie twice, including the top of the eighth on Chickering’s two-out bloop single. But UMF committed two key errors that led to three unearned runs.

Colby had just one miscue and made several nice plays in the outfield to rob the Beavers of base hits, including a sliding catch by Currier in right field that denied Tyler Flayhart extra bases and kept what turned out to be a three-run third inning from being even more damaging.

“We had a couple of fundamental errors in the field that cost us,” UMF coach Chris Bessey said. “I think we’ve proven offensively we’re willing to grind out games, but we’ve just got to make the plays defensively when they’re there.”

One was there after the Beavers took a 5-4 lead on Erskine Academy alum Sean Cabannis’ sacrifice fly in the top of the seventh. Tyler Starks led off Colby’s half of the frame with a single. Peterson got the ground ball he wanted from Colby’s Ryan Quinn, but second baseman Dustin McCrossin bobbled the ball. In his rush to try to salvage the double play, his throw to second base went into left field, allowing Starks and Quinn to each move up a base.

Zach Ellenthal’s ground out to short scored Starks with the tying run and Danny Csaplar’s two-out single plated Quinn with the go-ahead run.

“That was a mistake that ended up costing us,” Bessey said. “I think if we would have gotten out of that inning without giving up a run, that would have been big because we would have held the lead at that point.”

Colby took the game’s first lead in the second on an RBI single by Egan and an RBI ground out by Jackson Ward.

Coming off a successful trip to Florida last week and their first win over Husson since 2011 on Wednesday, the Beavers answered with three in the third off Colby freshman starter Brooks Parker, the key hits being an RBI double by Keene and an RBI single by Tom Grady, another Erskine product.

The Mules reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the third with the help of UMF’s first error. Currier’s two-out RBI double put them back in front, 4-3.

Both Parker and Peterson (8 IP, 4 ER, 9 H, 3 K, 3 BB) settled into a rhythm after that for a couple of innings until the Beavers tied it again in the sixth on pinch hitter Mark Leahy’s two-out RBI single.

Csaplar relieved Parker after Leahy’s hit and ended up getting his first win of the season, allowing three hits and two earned runs in 2.1 innings. Tommy Forese walked one and struck out one in the ninth to pick up his second save.

The teams were originally scheduled to play next Monday, but both sides agreed to move it up because of the forecast for much colder weather next week.

“We had a lot of young guys playing. We started a freshman on the mound and a freshman at second. Blake Egan’s a sophomore but it’s his first year catching,” Plummer said. “We had some guys that were banged up a little bit — Tommy (Forese), Matt Garcia — and a couple of guys that were still banged up from the (Arizona) trip, guys who started a lot of the games in Arizona. So we held them back.”

This was the Mules’ first game in Maine since returning form their Arizona trip but not their first time on their field. The turf and lack of snow allowed them to get accustomed to their new diamond before their trip west.

“I absolutely love it. This is the best field in New England in my opinion,” said Csaplar, a senior co-captain. “In year’s past, we haven’t been able to get out on a field until our spring trip. We were able to get out on this maybe six or eight times, which is huge for us.”

On Wednesday, the softball team celebrated its first games on its new synthetic field on the other side of the complex with a doubleheader sweep of UMF. The official dedication of the complex is scheduled for April 9. Both teams are scheduled to play doubleheaders at noon.

“I love it. It’s a dream come true to play on a beautiful field like this with a great group of guys, especially so early on in my college career,” Garcia said. “I have three more years of this. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

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Twitter: @RAWmaterial33