The top two teams in the America East Conference baseball standings, separated by just one game in the loss column, are slated to face off this weekend for the second time this season. The homeless Binghamton University baseball team is set to visit first-place Stony Brook University for a three-game series that will determine which team will sit atop the America East with just over two weeks remaining of the regular season.
Binghamton (18-18, 9-3 AE) dropped two of three games to the Seawolves (34-10, 12-2 AE) when the teams met in early April. The Bearcats enter the rematch riding the momentum of a three-win weekend over the University of Hartford.
Freshman third baseman Brian Ruby leads the Bearcats with a .362 batting average. In 69 at bats, Ruby has 25 hits and has driven in nine runs. Senior left fielder Dave Ciocchi has also been an offensive powerhouse for Binghamton as of late. During last weekend’s series at Hartford, Ciocchi went 3-for-7 with four RBIs and a three-run home run. He has two home runs on the season and leads the team in RBIs with 23.
Binghamton aces Mike Augliera and Jake Lambert will also be looking to improve their records this weekend. Augliera (4-5) has a 2.35 ERA and has struck out 64 batters through 57.1 innings, while Lambert (5-3) has struck out 24 through 54.2 innings of play and has posted an ERA of 3.46. Augliera ranks third in the America East in ERA and leads the league in strikeouts.
Binghamton head coach Tim Sinicki said that the Bearcats are looking forward to the weekend series against conference leader Stony Brook.
“We’ve had a really good week of practice and our guys are excited about the opportunity to compete against the top team in the league,” Sinicki said.
The Seawolves have won 20 of their last 22 games and are riding a 10-game win streak. They are coming off a three-game sweep of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in which junior William Carmona went 5-for-6 with four RBIs. Carmona, who leads the Seawolves with eight home runs and 46 RBIs, has a total of 19 extra base hits and a .373 batting average on the season. In his seven attempts this season, he has never been caught stealing.
Stony Brook junior Travis Jankowski leads the conference with a .390 average. He has a total of 13 doubles and nine triples on the season and is 29-33 in stolen bases.
Seawolves starting pitchers Tyler Johnson and Brandon McNitt will also be forces to contend with. In eight starts, Johnson is 6-1 with a league-best 1.72 ERA. He has thrown three complete games and allowed 45 hits through 52.1 innings. McNitt also boasts a 6-1 record and has allowed 56 hits through 63.2 innings. He retains an ERA of 1.98 on the season and has struck out 41 batters.
This three-game series was intended to be a home set for the Bearcats, but due to the renovations of the field at Binghamton University, the team will have to play Stony Brook on the road, although the Bearcats will remain the designated home team in this series.
Although the season-long renovations present a frustrating situation, Sinicki continues to remain positive.
“It’s unfortunate that we have to travel to them again, but that’s the hand we’ve been dealt this season,” he said. “We’ll make no excuses and expect nobody to feel sorry for us. Our plan is to go down and get after them.”
The Bearcats are set to play a doubleheader on Saturday followed by the rubber match scheduled for Sunday. The first game is set for noon on Saturday at Joe Nathan Field.