As the Binghamton baseball team approaches the playoffs, each game becomes more crucial in the path to the postseason. Over the weekend, the Bearcats split their four-game series against UMBC, winning both games of Saturday’s doubleheader and dropping both on Sunday. With the split, BU (14-14, 14-13 America East) currently stands behind Stony Brook and is tied with NJIT for second place in its division with two more weekends of regular season ball left to play.
“[I am] disappointed with the series split, but we still control our own fate for the postseason,” said Binghamton head coach Tim Sinicki. “We need a good week of practice and then [we] head to New Jersey with something to prove.”
In the early game on Saturday, the Bearcats dominated UMBC (16-20, 11-20 AE), winning the game 9-0. Sophomore pitcher Thomas Babalis continued his strong season with an electric start on the bump. He shut out the Retrievers, giving up just three hits and striking out nine batters. The offense came alive to provide run support for Babalis. Senior outfielder Daniel Franchi, senior infielder Alex Baratta and freshman outfielder Tommy Reifler had two hits apiece in the 11-hit victory. Sophomore outfielder Cavan Tully drove in a career-high three RBIs.
Game two was a closer contest, as Binghamton secured the win 3-2. The Bearcats walked off game two of Saturday in fashion. Baratta went 2-4 with two RBIs in his first two at-bats of the game. UMBC scored runs in the fourth and sixth innings to set up the walk-off opportunity. In the top of the ninth with the game tied, sophomore pitcher Tanner Beang held the Retrievers and struck out the away side. In the bottom of the ninth with one out and runners on first and second, sophomore infielder Zachary Taylor laced a ball off the left field wall, allowing the Bearcats to celebrate their second win of the day.
Binghamton failed to match Saturday’s success as it closed out the series on Sunday. In game one, sophomore pitcher Jack Collins froze the Retrievers in the batter’s box, striking out five batters looking and one batter swinging. UMBC struggled to make solid contact with Collins. He only allowed one hit and one earned run in the complete game. However, the Bearcats’ offense lacked the ability to assist their strong starting pitching after they failed to respond to UMBC’s run in the third inning, dropping the outing 1-0.
Both the offense and defense underperformed in game two of Sunday’s doubleheader. The pitching struggled with command and BU had three errors over nine innings. The Bearcats’ bullpen ran into even more issues in the top of the ninth inning, allowing the Retrievers to break the game open with four runs. The relief pitchers had difficulty finding the strike zone with all four of the runs amounting from one hit. Binghamton answered with one run in the bottom of the ninth before losing 8-3. The Bearcats walked 11 times in game two of Sunday, leaving runners stranded in scoring position and ignoring the opportunity to catch up to UMBC.
After splitting its series with UMBC, Binghamton will travel to NJIT on Saturday, May 15 and Sunday, May 16. The first pitch is set for 11 a.m. at Jim Hynes Stadium in Union, New Jersey.