In a weekend battle for first place in the America East standings, the Binghamton University baseball team dropped two of three games to conference-leading Stony Brook University. The Bearcats, who remain in second place with two series remaining on their regular season schedule, are now three games behind the Seawolves.
The Seawolves, who have won 12 of their last 13 games, continue to dominate the division.
Head coach Tim Sinicki was unhappy with the losses, but noted that the Bearcats (19-20, 10-5 AE) have hung close with the Seawolves (36-11, 14-3 AE), who took the season series 4-2.
“They have, at least statistically speaking, the best pitching staff in the conference,” Sinicki said. “But if you look at the games we played against them, of the four losses we have, one was in extra innings, and one was a 3-0 loss. When you look at the overall scope … I think we’re very comparable and probably very similar to them.”
While this may be true, the Bearcats have to first solve some offensive issues. Binghamton struggled to get anything started Saturday, leaving seven men stranded on base and dropping the opener 3-0. Tyler Johnson, the starting pitcher for the Seawolves, scattered six Bearcat hits over four innings. Senior left fielder Dave Ciocchi led Binghamton with two singles in Saturday’s first game, but no other Bearcat recorded more than one hit.
“We just didn’t swing the bats well enough to win a series,” Sinicki said. “Offensively, we just didn’t get it going. We played 25 innings of baseball this weekend, and we only scored in one inning.”
Senior pitcher Mike Augliera struggled against the Seawolves as well, surrendering three runs on nine hits through seven innings.
Binghamton’s luck improved in the nightcap, as the Bearcats snagged their only win of the weekend, 3-1. Junior pitcher Jake Lambert is largely responsible for the victory, as he smothered the Seawolves’ offense, pitching seven shutout innings. Lambert allowed just four hits, and improved his ERA against America East opponents to 1.00.
The Bearcats’ offense awoke in the fifth inning to score three runs on as many hits. With one run already in, sophomore center fielder Bill Bereszniewicz’s two-out, two-run single down the first base side gave Binghamton a 3-0 lead. The pitching staff held the lead for the rest of the game, as junior closer Lee Sosa gave up one run in the ninth before striking out Stony Brook’s last batter to preserve a 3-1 Bearcat victory.
While Saturday’s games were close, Sunday’s game was a disaster for BU. The Seawolves were unstoppable, notching 13 hits to Binghamton’s three and outscoring the Bearcats 8-0. The Bearcats had no answer to the Seawolves, as they were limited to one hit throughout the first eight innings.
As Sinicki stated, the offense simply wasn’t up to par this weekend, but he also expressed confidence in his team’s ability to compete in the programs’ next potential meeting.
“If we face them again in a conference tournament, I think it’ll be an opportunity for us to exact a little bit of revenge,” he said. “And I think we’re capable of doing that.”
Binghamton moves on to face the University at Albany (16-28-1, 10-7 AE) for the first time this upcoming weekend. Importantly, the Bearcats need just one more win to clinch the program’s sixth straight tournament spot.
According to coach Sinicki, Binghamton and Albany have a competitive history that should make the upcoming weekend games interesting.
“It’s an old SUNY rivalry, which dates back to the Division III days,” he said. “I think both programs are competitive every year, and have a lot of respect for each other. Any time we get together with them, it’s always a good series.”
First pitch is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Albany’s Varsity Field.