The Binghamton baseball team kicked off its conference season with a home series against America East (AE) rivals UMass Lowell over the weekend. The two sides’ last meeting took place during the 2022 AE tournament, where BU defeated the River Hawks in two straight playoff games. This included their final matchup of the year, which saw the Bearcats emerge as the victors of the AE Championship. Nevertheless, Binghamton continued its winning ways, sweeping UMass Lowell in the three-game weekend series.
“Those three-game sweeps are rare,” said Binghamton head coach Tim Sinicki. “They are not easy given the conference makeup, given the balance that the conference has and given the fact that that’s a good opponent year in and year out.”
Game one began in a tight contest, as both teams put one run on the board in the first inning. The offense went silent, however, until the fifth inning when UMass Lowell (3-17, 0-3 AE) got on the board again. BU (11-8, 3-0 AE) swiftly responded in the bottom of the frame when junior outfielder Tommy Reifler drove in a run with a double. Just two innings later in the seventh, the River Hawks put up a two-spot to take the lead for the third time. The Bearcats’ answer did not come until the following inning when sophomore second baseman Nick Roselli ripped the game-tying triple that scored two. Neither side scored for the remainder of regulation, sending the matchup into extra innings. The contest lasted until the 11th inning, where Binghamton put the game to bed when junior catcher Kevin Reilly sealed the deal with a walk-off ground-rule double, scoring Roselli as the Bearcats earned the 5-4 victory.
“I certainly think that winning the first game in the fashion that we did helped us,” Sinicki said. “It was kind of weird because we didn’t play the very next day, so maybe you lose a little momentum … But I still think it meant a lot to our guys to win the way we did on Friday.”
Poor weather conditions caused the second game of the series to be pushed back a day, resulting in a Sunday double-header to decide the series. In the first contest of the day, BU got off to a quick start, jumping out to a 4-2 lead in the third inning. Sophomore infielder Devan Bade opened the Bearcats’ scoring with a solo homer in the second. Then in the following inning, junior outfielder Mike Gunning plated two runs with a triple. The junior continued his strong offensive performance in the fourth, earning two more RBIs with a single to give the hosts a 6-2 lead. UMass Lowell put together a three-run rally in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough as Binghamton held strong in the 6-5 victory.
“To win that second game, now our pressure goes down,” Sinicki said. “We got off to a pretty good start, we responded well after [NJIT] scored a couple runs, then from there just kinda hung on and then built the lead later.”
In the final game of the series, the River Hawks struck first, plating two runs in the first inning. BU staged an immediate response, however, sparking a four-run rally in the bottom of the inning to take the lead. Senior outfielder Cavan Tully led off with a solo homer, and Bade capped off the frame with a two-run shot of his own. Binghamton maintained its lead for the game and added three insurance runs in the seventh for an 8-4 advantage. UMass Lowell made an effort to get back into the game, adding one run in the ninth, but fell short as the Bearcats completed the series sweep with an 8-5 win.
“A lot of different guys chipped in, which is very important,” Sinicki said. “Even a guy like [junior catcher] Kevin Reilly on Friday … for him to get the walk-off ground-rule double was big. Guys just had good at-bats this weekend — like [Gunning], [he] really had a good weekend … I’m most happy that a lot of guys contributed up and down the lineup over the course of the three games.”
BU returns to action on the road against Canisius on Tuesday, March 28. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. at the Demske Sports Complex in Buffalo, New York.