Fresh off of sweeping the defending conference champions, the Binghamton baseball team extended its conference-winning streak to six with two successful outings against UMBC on Saturday afternoon. The Bearcats (20-19, 10-6 America East) were able to sweep their opponent. The first game saw BU earn a 13-4 victory, while the second was captured 7-5. With these two wins, Binghamton has clinched a spot in the 2019 AE Championship, which will be hosted by BU.
“We’ve had our sights set on the postseason since the season started,” said BU head coach Tim Sinicki. “I think it’s especially exciting that we’re in fact hosting the tournament this year. I think our guys are really excited now. They have an opportunity to play in that tournament in front of friends and families and local supporters and all the people who will be in attendance for the America East tournament.”
The Bearcats were set to participate in a three-game series this weekend against UMBC (20-25, 6-14 AE) at Alumni Field in Baltimore, Maryland; however, the series was shortened to two after Sunday afternoon’s finale was canceled.
During the opening game, the Bearcats followed a scoreless first inning with a seven-run second frame, while the Retrievers only scored two runs in the bottom half of the inning, setting the tone for the rest of the afternoon.
The scoring barrage in the top of the second began with an RBI single up the middle from redshirt junior outfielder Daniel Franchi, which allowed junior infielder Justin Drpich to advance to home. Shortly after, a triple down the line from sophomore outfielder Shane Marshall cleared the base runners to tally three runs, and a single from redshirt junior infielder Alex Baratta plated Marshall. The onslaught ended with a home run from senior outfielder Sean Trenholm, which drove in two more. The Bearcats tacked on four more runs in the top of the third to take a lopsided 11-2 lead.
Senior pitcher Nick Gallagher pitched six innings, during which he allowed three runs and struck out four. He was relieved by senior pitcher Robert Brown, who tossed for the remaining three innings and gave up only three hits and one run, fanning four.
The Retrievers started the nightcap strong, taking a 3-0 advantage in the first inning, two runs of which came via a two-run home run from junior outfielder Ryan Brown. The Bearcats responded quickly in the next inning with a homer of their own from freshman first baseman Kevin Gsell, driving in himself and senior outfielder Anthony Meduri.
Gsell had a sacrifice foul out to right field in the following inning, allowing a runner to score and evening the score at 3-3. A triple to right center from Baratta propelled BU to a one-run edge in the fourth, and while the score remained close, the Bearcats were able to maintain this lead for the rest of the game.
Junior pitcher Ben Anderson tied the Binghamton record for wins in a season and broke the record for strikeouts in a season in the second game of the doubleheader. He threw for five innings, surrendering seven hits and four runs and striking out nine. He was relieved by freshman pitcher Jack Collins, who worked the final two innings and earned a save.
“Ben’s been very consistent throughout the entire season,” Sinicki said. “So you kind of come to expect those things from him, which sometimes can be unfair, because let’s face it, every guy who’s ever pitched, at any level, is gonna go out and eventually not have their best stuff. But Ben’s been the mark of consistency all year long and every time he takes the mound, I think our team has a lot of confidence in him and a lot of confidence in the fact that we’ll have a chance to win the ballgame.”
Baratta had a close-to-perfect day, going 6-for-8 at the plate with five runs, a home run and three RBIs.
“He had a really great season overall, and he just continues to find ways to get on base,” Sinicki said. “Sometimes he starts an inning with a hit, sometimes he’s in a position to drive runs in, and so he’s kind of been a person who’s done a little bit of everything for us all year on the offensive side of things. So, it’s really been a stellar season for him.”
The Bearcats will take on Siena College in a doubleheader on Tuesday, May 7. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. from the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.