After a weekend of strong pitching performances, the Binghamton baseball team won three of four games in a series against NJIT. The Bearcats (8-8, 8-8 America East) were able to win both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Highlanders (8-18, 7-13 AE) and secured one win in Sunday’s second outing to take the home series.
“I think any time you can win three out of four conference games in a weekend, it’s a great weekend for the program,” said Binghamton head coach Tim Sinicki. “It’s not easy to do. It’s a lot of baseball in a short period of time. It’s hard because you’re out there for two hours of pregame and 5 1/2 hours more. You’re out there for 7 1/2 to eight hours of baseball and it really tests your ability to concentrate and focus and be prepared to play.”
Saturday’s first game opened with minimal scoring for both sides. Sophomore pitcher Thomas Babalis recorded 10 strikeouts throughout the game, and the Bearcats were playing a no-hit game until the bottom of the seventh inning. In that final frame, senior outfielder Daniel Franchi stepped up to the plate and hit a double. On the next at bat, junior outfielder Shane Marshall hit a sacrifice, and Franchi reached home after a throwing error to third base from the Highlanders. The Bearcats were able to break up the no-hitter and earn a walk-off victory to open the series.
“We haven’t been great offensively all year,” Sinicki said. “I don’t get too concerned about how many hits we have or don’t have. For me it’s about timely hitting. We have to continue to try to find ways to get guys on base, and then come up with big hits … Do we have to get better offensively and more consistent? Yes, we do. But if you can win games when you’re not clicking on all cylinders offensively, that’s a good sign also.”
In Saturday’s second outing, the Bearcats were again able to keep the Highlanders scoreless. Sophomore pitcher Ryan Bryggman pitched six innings, giving up six hits and striking out four batters while freshman pitcher Justin Rosner picked up the save after pitching for three innings and giving up only one hit. An RBI by senior third baseman Justin Drpich in the third inning put the Bearcats in the lead, and an additional run off of a NJIT error in the seventh allowed BU to take the game 2-0.
“The pitching staff has been doing a very good job,” Sinicki said. “It really gives with starters. You just ask them to go out there and keep you in the ball game. Sometimes you’re going to have to keep their team off the scoreboard and that keeps you in the game, other times you might get into a slugfest and again they might give up some runs. But as long as your starters can keep you in the game and give you a chance to win … That’s all you can ask out of them, and so far this season we’ve done a really good job with our starting pitching.”
The team’s first game on Sunday was tied at 1-1 going into the seventh inning, but BU fell behind 2-1 in the top of the final inning after an error allowed a Highlander player to score.
“Errors are part of baseball,” Sinicki said. “Unfortunately, it was just an unusual situation that we didn’t execute as well as we needed to and it cost us. Sometimes I get more concerned about mental errors than I do physical errors because physical errors are just part of the game.”
The final games of the series featured the most offense of the weekend. The Bearcats were tied 3-3 with the Highlanders after four innings of play. In the sixth inning, the Bearcats offense earned two runs off of four hits to put them up 5-3. Another run in the seventh inning cushioned their lead and allowed the Bearcats to win 6-3 and take the series win over NJIT.
“Getting three out of four is really a nice thing for the program,” Sinicki said.
Binghamton’s season will continue next week when the team plays four games against UMBC, beginning on Friday, April 23. The first pitch in game one is set for 1 p.m. at Alumni Field in Baltimore, Maryland.