Continuing its recent streak of success, the Binghamton University baseball team captured three of four games against the Lehigh University Mountain Hawks this weekend.
The team’s slow start seems to be a thing of the past, as the Bearcats (6-8) have now won six of their last eight games. As head coach Tim Sinicki stressed earlier in the season, it was only a matter of time until his team started producing wins.
“I think what you have to do is take a look at who we played those first two weekends,” Sinicki said, referring to Binghamton’s losses to Virginia Commonwealth University and the then-No. 4 University of Arkansas.
“I think we’ve played well from the day we stepped onto the field and I think we continue to play well,” he added. “And now that we’re just playing against some more teams in our region, I think the wins are coming now more so than [they] obviously did the first two weekends.”
Indeed, the Bearcats seemed to have found their rhythm as they swept Lehigh in Saturday’s doubleheader, taking the games by a score of 3-1 and 6-4, respectively. Binghamton nearly took Sunday’s doubleheader too, winning the first game 10-4, but just barely dropping the nightcap in 10 innings, 5-4.
Sinicki had plenty of praise for the team’s efforts over the weekend.
“We did pitch well in all [the] ball games and we actually defended very well also. I’m very happy with our defense,” he said. “Those are always two good things to have, starting pitching and good defense, so it’s a great place to kind of build from. And we swung the bats well enough to get some wins.”
Senior starter Mike Augliera continued to step up as the pitching rotation’s ace, smoking the Mountain Hawks (6-16-1) in his start in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader. Augliera pitched all seven innings, allowing just one run on five hits. In addition, he struck out 10 batters, while giving up no walks. Augliera now has 30 strikeouts and one walk in just 28 innings pitched.
“He’s been great … that really sums it up,” Sinicki said. “He’s everything that you could ask for out of your No. 1 starter. He sets the tone for the weekend and I think the guys have a tremendous amount of confidence playing behind him.”
Augliera’s pitching, in addition to RBI from junior Jordon Smucker, freshman Zach Blanden and sophomore Daniel Nevares, led the Bearcats to their first of three consecutive wins. Binghamton went on to take the second leg of the doubleheader by a score of 6-4.
In Sunday’s first game, after being shut out through the first three innings, the Bearcats exploded in the fourth, belting out six runs on five hits to take a 6-4 lead. Binghamton added three more unanswered runs in the fifth and scored their last run in the sixth off an RBI single by Blanden.
Blanden, who has proved himself valuable to the Binghamton lineup in the team’s recent stretch of success, went 6-for-13 (.462) on the weekend and knocked in four RBI.
“We tried early in the year to get some guys in some games, and give them experience and an opportunity to earn jobs,” Sinicki said. “He, more than anyone, has taken advantage of that. A lot of credit goes to him and his hard work, and his ability to take advantage of the situation.”
Smucker finished the weekend with a .533 batting average and three RBI while extending his hitting streak to eight games. He is also leading the team with 11 RBI in 14 games this season and was named America East Baseball Player of the Week on Monday.
The Bearcats’ busy stretch is set to continue with a double header at Bucknell University this afternoon.
“It’s going to be our fifth and sixth games in a matter of four days … we’re going to start with some young guys out there,” Sinicki said. “I’m hoping they pitch well, but as long we go out and compete and try to prepare for America East play, which is less than two weeks away, that’s kind of all I’m looking for.”
First pitch is set for 1 p.m. at Eugene B. Depew Field.