Hawks snatch three-game set from baseball

While the Binghamton baseball team’s pitching overwhelmed this weekend, its offense underwhelmed.

Franz Lino/Staff Photographer Junior right fielder Zach Blanden did all he could to get Binghamton’s offense going, drilling a solo homer in the fifth inning of Saturday’s nightcap.

The Bearcats (5-13, 1-4 America East) surrendered only 11 hits to Hartford over the course of a three-game series, but couldn’t generate enough offense to come home with more than one.

“I thought the pitching on both sides was outstanding,” Binghamton head coach Tim Sinicki said. “But we just struggled offensively against their guys and couldn’t get the runs in when we needed to. In the end we just fell a little short.”

BU’s starting pitchers lit up the stat sheet, combining to hold the Hawks (9-8, 2-1 AE) to only one earned run over 19 innings.

“As a group, they were outstanding,” Sinicki said. “It’s just what you ask your starting pitchers to do — you ask them to go out and give your team a chance to win. They kept throwing up zero after zero on the board and put us in a position that we were within striking distance every game, and you can’t ask any more of those three kids.”

The first game of Saturday’s doubleheader pitted BU senior ace Jack Rogalla against Hartford junior Sean Newcomb, who hasn’t allowed an earned run all season. Rogalla pitched eight innings, allowing four hits and three runs — two of which were unearned — while striking out six.

But the Bearcats could only muster four hits against Newcomb — a likely first-round pick in this year’s MLB draft — and wound up losing that game, 3-0. Despite an early chance to score with two runners on base in the first, nothing materialized for the Bearcats, who bounced into three double plays in the game.

Discord also wasted opportunities.

“A couple times this weekend, we had guys on base [who] we wanted to steal and the guy in the box doesn’t give us a chance,” Sinicki said. “We give a guy a green light, and the hitter goes ahead and swings at the first pitch and doesn’t give his teammate a chance to steal.”

Junior pitcher Mike Urbanski started the latter half of the doubleheader in his first game since missing nearly three weeks with an injury. Urbanski pitched four solid innings, good enough to earn his first win of the season. He allowed three hits and no runs while striking out two, and Binghamton took the game, 2-0.

Junior right fielder Zach Blanden, who carried a .197 batting average into the weekend, played an instrumental role in Binghamton’s two scores. In the first inning, he reached base and scored on a double from senior second baseman Daniel Nevares. Blanden later kicked off the fifth inning with a solo home run, his first of the season.

“[Blanden] seems to be getting better swings,” Sinicki said. “I thought he had good at-bats this past weekend. To his credit, he hasn’t gotten down on himself because of the slow start — he’s continued to work hard and kind of push through it.”

In Sunday’s finale, the Bearcats plated the first two runs of the game, but a late rally by the Hawks proved to be more than BU could handle as the Bearcats fell, 3-2.

Sophomore Jake Cryts pitched seven innings of two-hit ball while holding the Hawks scoreless. Leading the Hawks, 2-0, in the eighth inning, the Bearcats faltered on the mound and allowed three runs.

Already halfway through the season, Binghamton’s offense is still struggling, having failed to break three runs in its last seven games. With their pitching holding down the fort, the Bearcats need their bats to come alive if they hope to return to the College World Series in May.

“I don’t think we’ve necessarily played a complete game yet,” Sinicki said. “But I think the biggest thing right now is our offense. We’re struggling a bit. We’ve got to be able to find ways to do a better job up and down the order, but particularly in the middle of the order. They’re your middle of the order hitters for a reason — they’re the guys you’re counting on.”

Due to poor field conditions, today’s home doubleheader against Bucknell has been canceled. Resultantly, the next time the Bearcats will take the field is this weekend, when they will travel to Mount St. Mary’s. The Bearcats are scheduled for a three-game series against the Mountaineers (6-8).

First pitch of both Saturday and Sunday’s games is set for 1 p.m. at E.T. Straw Family Stadium in Emmitsburg, Md.