UMass Lowell sweeps baseball in first AE series

The new kids on the block swept the defending America East champions in a shortened series this weekend.

Franz Lino/Staff Photographer Junior left fielder Jake Thomas doubled and scored in the second inning of Saturday’s nightcap to give BU a brief lead.

Before Sunday’s finale was postponed due to frigid temperatures, the Binghamton baseball team lost a pair of games to UMass Lowell on Saturday, both by a score of 4-2.

“Well, we’re disappointed, obviously,” Binghamton head coach Tim Sinicki said. “On the road, in conference play, you never want to lose a series — you want to try to find a way to win the series.”

“I think that losing is a part of sports, and I’m okay with losing if we feel like the better team won or at least they outplayed us on that particular day,” Sinicki added. “But I feel like we didn’t play up to our capabilities, and we allowed them to stick around for too long in those games and we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit.”

The Bearcats (4-11, 0-2 AE) struck first in the conference-opening series at Bill Beck Field in Kingston, R.I. — the field on which the 2013 Bearcats won the America East tournament — but couldn’t keep it up.

“I don’t think we played particularly well in any of the phases of the game,” Sinicki said.

In the fourth inning, junior catcher Nick Pancerella walked with the bases loaded to give the Bearcats a 1-0 lead. An inning-ending double play in the next at-bat eliminated their chances to extend the advantage. The River Hawks (8-2, 2-0 AE) took the lead for good in the sixth when they plated two runs on four hits. They would add two more runs in the seventh for insurance.

Pancerella drove in redshirt junior first baseman Brian Ruby with a two-out double in the eighth inning for BU’s second run. Pancerella was injured at the end of the game and will be evaluated by team doctors to see if he can play this weekend.

Junior ace Jack Rogalla (2-2) was on the mound for the first game and pitched six innings. He allowed seven hits and two runs but struck out 10 River Hawks, picking up the loss.

“Jack was really good,” Sinicki said. “He made some big pitches when he had to, and he certainly did enough to keep us in the ballgame and give us a chance to win, which is all you can expect out of your starting pitcher.”

Junior right fielder Zach Blanden went 3-for-5, and senior captain and center fielder Bill Bereszniewicz finished 2-for-5. Binghamton left 11 runners on base.

“Billy’s a guy we need to get on base and make things happen — which he’s done for us,” Sinicki said. “We’re just struggling with the middle of the order, getting guys in. We just need to do a better job with the middle of the order, who are supposed to be run producers for us.”

In the nightcap, sophomore pitcher Jake Cryts (1-3) pitched a complete six innings and allowed only one earned run. But two errors allowed for three unearned runs to score, dooming the Bearcats.

Senior designated hitter Shaun McGraw drove in the first run of the game with a single in the second inning that scored junior left fielder Jake Thomas. The River Hawks would score two in the bottom of the inning on two hits. An error by BU caused both runs to be unearned.

UMass Lowell tacked on a run in the third and fifth innings before Binghamton threatened to tie the game in the seventh. Sophomore third baseman Reed Gamache was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. McGraw hit a double to right field to put runners on second and third with no outs. Senior shortstop John Howell brought Gamache home on an RBI groundout. With the tying run at the plate, BU popped out to second base to end the game.

McGraw went 2-for-3 in the game with one RBI.

No makeup date has been set for Sunday’s postponed game, but Sinicki said his team would not travel back to UMass Lowell this season. If they decided to add a game when the River Hawks visit BU, per conference rules, it would not have to count as a conference game.

Next up, the Bearcats will head to Hartford to take on the Hawks in a three-game conference series at Fiondella Field. The first game of the series is set for noon on Saturday.