Nevares’ big weekend helps baseball take series from UMass Lowell

The Binghamton baseball team is heating up at the right time.

Franz Lino/Staff Photographer Sophomore pitcher Jake Cryts allowed only two earned runs while striking out four in 7 2/3 innings against UMass Lowell on Sunday.

Continuing their offensive dominance with a series victory over America East foe UMass Lowell, the Bearcats (19-21, 10-10 AE) have now won nine of their last 11, scoring seven runs or more in eight of those victories.

Behind a record-setting series from senior second baseman Daniel Nevares, the Bearcats won the series opener and finale against the third-place River Hawks (18-18, 9-8 AE). Nevares batted a combined 7-for-9 with three runs scored and 11 RBIs in BU’s two victories.

“Danny’s been a great four-year player for us,” BU head coach Tim Sinicki said. “Over the years he’s shown the propensity to get hot and have big weekends.”

Junior Jack Rogalla (4-6) pitched well enough to earn the game one victory, tossing 6 2/3 innings while surrendering six runs, four earned, on seven hits.

“We ask our starting pitchers to [do] one thing, very simply, and that’s to keep us in the ball game and give us a chance to win,” Sinicki said. “Some days, that’s a 2-1 game, and other times it might be a 10-6 game … It’s all about a team effort, it’s all about picking each other up and trying to play good, quality baseball as a program and not having to rely on one particular aspect of the game.”

Sophomore third baseman Reed Gamache opened the scoring in the second with a two-run home run. In the fourth, Nevares hit the first of his two two-run homers in the game to give the Bearcats a 6-4 lead. His second would come in the bottom of the seventh. Binghamton would never surrender the lead, winning the game, 10-6.

“I feel like over the past few weeks, as we’ve gotten to practice outside, we’ve had the opportunity to do more things offensively and I feel like that’s showing in some instances right now,” Sinicki said.

Freshman Jextin Pugh (0-1) got the start in game two and pitched 4 1/3 innings while allowing only two runs on seven hits. Freshman reliever Nicholas Liegi (1-1) was tagged with the loss despite pitching 2 2/3 innings and allowing just one run.

“All we’re asking those guys is to go out and give us everything they have,” Sinicki said. “Even though we lost game two, I thought they both did a good job … and put us in a position to win.”

Aside from two hits apiece by freshman catcher Eddie Posavec and senior center fielder Bill Bereszniewicz, and freshman designated hitter Brendan Skidmore’s first career home run, the Bearcats could not find an offensive rhythm, falling 3-2.

Nevares continued pacing the Bearcats’ offense in Sunday’s finale, recording three more hits and six RBIs. Nevares, junior right fielder Zach Blanden and Bereszniewicz combined to hit 9-for-13 while scoring six runs. In the fifth inning, Nevares hit his third two-run home run of the weekend, giving BU a 4-2 lead. He concluded his impressive performance with a bases-loaded triple in the bottom of the seventh.

Sophomore pitcher Jake Cryts was on the mound and earned the win after 7 2/3 innings of four-hit ball. He surrendered three runs, only two earned, as BU took the rubber match, 7-3.

Nevares’ weekend was notable for two reasons. In addition to his career series at the plate, his father visited from Puerto Rico.

“This weekend was special for him,” Sinicki said. “Any time you got a guy who can put the offense on his back and lead the way the way he did, it’s a great thing to have in the program, but it’s special when it’s his final home series and he got a chance to do it in front of his father.”

With the two wins, the Bearcats have a three-game advantage over Maine for the third seed in the America East tournament, with three conference games remaining. However, with the way BU has been playing, a shot at back-to-back AE Championships seems more and more possible.

“You don’t win championships in March, you win them in May,” Sinicki said. “Our goal is to get [the players] playing their best baseball this time of year. I think we’re playing as well as we’ve played all year right now.”

The Bearcats return to action this weekend when they take on Boston College in Massachusetts. First pitch for Saturday’s game is at 4 p.m. at Eddie Pellagrini Diamond at John Shea Field. The series will conclude Sunday with a doubleheader starting at noon.