Over the weekend, the Binghamton baseball team traveled to Stanford, California to compete in the NCAA Regionals. The Bearcats played twice, dropping their first matchup to No. 2 Stanford, and losing their second game to UC Santa Barbara.
“We were out there to try and win ball games,” said Binghamton head coach Tim Sinicki. “We knew it was going to be a challenge … As I look back at it and have time to reflect on it, I thought we competed pretty well … We did a good job going out there representing the America East (AE) and representing [Binghamton University].”
On Friday afternoon, BU (22-30, 15-15 AE) took on No. 2 nationally ranked Stanford (42-14, 21-9 Pac-12) in a high-scoring affair. The Bearcats took an early 1-0 lead after one inning when freshman catcher Evin Sullivan hit an RBI single into center field. However, Binghamton was unable to sustain its lead as the Cardinal plated 10 runs in the bottom of the second inning.
“I thought one of our greatest strengths all year was that we played full baseball games,” Sinicki said. “We didn’t stop playing no matter what the score was … Which is really good for our guys in terms of talks about their focus, concentration level and ability to not give up when they’re down … I’m really happy that’s something that our guys take a lot of pride in.”
Junior pitcher Thomas Babalis got the start on the mound and only pitched 1.1 innings. The junior and the other Bearcat pitchers could not neutralize Stanford’s offense as they gave up a combined 20 runs in total.
“You look at the scoreboard, and you have to kind of take a deep breath,” Sinicki said. “We put ourselves in this spot and you try not to say, ‘Let’s get it all back in one inning.’ Let’s try and chip away … It’s tough to rebound from those big innings against any team.”
After two innings, Binghamton found itself down 10-1 and attempted to cut into its deficit. Sullivan drove in another run in the third, and junior outfielder Colin Mason hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth. In the fifth inning, freshman infielder Devan Bade and senior infielder Jake Evans both hit singles to bring in one run apiece. Subsequently, Mason hit a grounder to plate an additional run for BU, narrowing its deficit to 10-6.
Despite the effort, Stanford responded in the next few innings, scoring four more runs in the bottom of the fifth. In the seventh inning, the Cardinal hit a three run homer to extend their lead 18-6. Freshman infielder Nick Roselli answered with a solo home run, but the margin was too expansive as Stanford scored again in the bottom of the eighth to take a 20-7 victory.
“[Sullivan and Roselli] are talented and fearless,” Sinicki said. “Those are really good traits to have as an athlete. The moment wasn’t too big for those guys, and when they got opportunities to swing the bat, they made the most of it.”
The next day, Binghamton faced UCSB (44-13, 27-3 Big West) in an elimination game for the Bearcats. The Gauchos got out to a hot start offensively and were up 8-0 after three innings. Junior pitcher Ryan Bryggman started the game and only pitched 2.2 innings. Junior pitcher Jack Collins came in to relieve Bryggman and threw 4.1 innings, giving up only one run. Sophomore pitcher Justin Rosner continued the strong bullpen effort with two hitless innings of his own after Collins.
“[Collins and Rosner] came in and they did exactly what we needed them to do if we had a chance to win that ball game,” Sinicki said. “They were outstanding, those two guys really put together a really good run of innings for us.”
BU tried to initiate a comeback in the fourth inning but were unable to significantly cut into the deficit. Bade and sophomore infielder Andrew Tan drove in runs in the fourth inning, while Roselli smacked a two run homer in the eighth to put four runs on the board. Additionally, Evans closed out his collegiate career with a single in the seventh inning to extend his school-record hit streak to 25 games. This, however, was not enough as the 9-4 loss officially ended the Bearcats’ season.
“Unbelievable,” Sinicki said. “For [Evans], who was best known for his defense at Binghamton, he leaves the program with his name etched in the offensive record book. Down the stretch he was as good and as clutch as anybody we’ve had … You couldn’t script a better two months for him to end his college career.”
Binghamton started AE conference play 1-7, but were able to turn things around, finishing the season 15-15. With many of the key members of the roster being underclassmen, Coach Sinicki said the team is in a good position going into next season.
“We’re pretty much gonna have seven of our nine guys in our batting order back from the team that went to NCAA Regionals,” Sinicki said. “So that’s a pretty good position to be in as we start thinking about what’s ahead for us next season.”