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Baseball splits four-game set with James Madison

The Binghamton baseball team won both ends of their four-game slate against James Madison University over the weekend to split the series.

Kendall Loh/Photo Editor Junior right fielder Zach Blanden had two hits and three RBIs in Binghamton’s 12-2 victory at James Madison on Friday.

The Bearcats (3-4) got off to a strong start against the Dukes (4-4) with a 12-2 rout on Friday night in which every starter reached base at least once. Junior left fielder Jake Thomas and senior second baseman Daniel Nevares hit back-to-back home runs in a seventh inning that saw 12 Bearcats come to bat and eight runs cross the plate.

“I like the fact that we’re starting games and most guys are zeroed in on what we have to do, and they’re focused on what their approaches are at the plate,” Binghamton head coach Tim Sinicki said. “It’s obviously a good trend to have, where you’re trying to put some pressure on the opposing team early in the game.”

With senior ace Jack Rogalla fanning seven and allowing just two runs in six innings, the Bearcats took a 4-2 lead into the game-sealing seventh inning.

Senior center fielder Bill Bereszniewicz finished three for four with two RBIs and two runs scored, sophomore third baseman Reed Gamache went two for four with two RBIs and runs apiece, and junior right fielder Zach Blanden added two hits and three RBIs from the leadoff spot.

Saturday’s doubleheader saw the Dukes take the series lead as they swept the Bearcats, winning 9-2 in the seven-inning day game and 11-9 in the nightcap.

After three perfect innings from junior starter Mike Urbanski, the Bearcats fell apart and lost their 2-0 lead. They allowed three runs in each of the fourth, fifth and sixth innings and eventually came away with the loss.

The second game of the doubleheader saw a 9-2 BU lead disappear, when the Dukes stormed back with seven runs to tie the game in the fourth. JMU tacked on a run in the fifth and seventh innings to complete the comeback victory, 11-9.

“I didn’t think our pitching in that game was particularly sharp, and we struggled getting ahead of hitters,” Sinicki said. “Any time you try to pitch behind in the count as often as we did, you’re going to get beat, and we did.”

Transitioning from the gym to a real mound can take time.

“Is there some truth to that? Absolutely,” Sinicki said. “But at the same time, I won’t — and I know our players won’t — make any excuses for not performing to the best of their ability.”

The Bearcats survived James Madison’s rally in the ninth inning of Sunday’s game to earn a win and a series split.

Sophomore Mike Bunal allowed two runs to score in the bottom of the ninth with the Bearcats leading, 9-5, but struck out JMU’s redshirt sophomore infielder Kyle Weston to end the game with a man on base. Bunal struck out three batters in the frame.

Getting out to an early lead once again, the Bearcats scored six runs in their first three innings. Sophomore third baseman David Schanz led the way with two hits and three RBIs, while Bereszniewicz, Thomas and Nevares added one RBI each.

After taking over the starting role at third base last season, Schanz has been impressive on the field and at the plate. This season he’s batting .313 and is tied for the team lead with six RBIs.

“David’s one of those players that everyone calls a gamer,” Sinicki said. “He’s not going to impress you, necessarily, with the things you might see at a showcase … But when it’s time to play a game, he does all the things the right way. He competes at a high level, he plays very hard and he finds a way to execute and deliver in the clutch.”

This weekend, the Bearcats will take on SEC member Georgia in Athens for a three-game series.

Friday’s first pitch is set for 5 p.m., followed by 1 p.m. starts on both Saturday and Sunday.