Fueled by a dominant pitching performance from senior Demi Laney in game one and a power surge from junior shortstop Caytlin Friis in game two, the Binghamton softball team captured a double header sweep of visiting St. Bonaventure on Tuesday afternoon.
“I definitely think we started off slow with our at-bats,” BU head coach Michelle Burrell said. “As the two games went on we got more comfortable in the box. We just kept working to keep a good approach. We got more comfortable as the games went a long.”
In the opener, Laney baffled the Bonnies (3-20), scattering seven hits over seven innings, only allowing two earned runs on a home run surrendered in the seventh to sophomore outfielder Emily Belfield.
“(It was) very important,” Laney said about her strong start. “Playing on our turf automatically gives us an advantage. I think that everyone was feeling the vibe, it was nice.”
The Bearcats (9-10) jumped out to an early 3-0 lead thanks to an RBI sacrifice fly by Friis in the second, a home-run by freshman third basemen Crysti Eichner in the fifth and an RBI double by senior second basemen Jessica Bump. Laney cruised through the first five innings, allowing only two hits during that span.
The Bearcats ran into trouble in the sixth when St. Bonaventure freshman infielder Desiree Gonzalez pinch hit and led off the inning with a double. The Bonnies followed with two singles to load the bases, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate.
But Laney escaped unscathed, forcing a groundout to Friis who threw home to get the force and then inducing a controversial double play to end the inning. St. Bonaventure sophomore Katie Sinclair hit a soft-line drive to Bump at second base. Bump failed to corral the liner, trapping the ball as she dove. However, the umpires failed to signal whether the ball had been caught.
Confusion occurred and at one point the only players remaining on the field were the Bonnies runners at all three bases, while the Bearcats were in the dugout, unsure of whether to return to the field. The end result was two outs for BU.
“The way [the umpires] explained it to me was no matter how they had called it we would have got two outs anyway,” Burrell said. “They called a no catch. When Bump threw the ball to first they called an out there, and we tagged the runner coming into home which was the second out.”
Binghamton would go on to add an insurance run in the bottom of the frame, and after Belfield’s one-out home run, Laney retired the next two batters to secure a 4-2 BU victory.
The Bearcats started off poorly in the nightcap, falling behind 4-0 by the end of the third.
But that is when the bats of Bump and Friis came alive. Led by the two upper classmen, Binghamton mounted a furious comeback, scoring three runs in the third thanks to a home-run by Friis and two unearned runs. The Bearcats tied the score at five when Bump scored her second run of the game in the fourth.
The score remained tied when Friis led off the sixth inning with a go-ahead homer to give the Bearcats a 6-5 lead, one they would not relinquish.
“I never hit two home runs in a game before, in high school or here” Friis said. “I knew she was throwing a lot of first-pitch strikes, a lot inside too. So I just kind of went up with the mentality that she was going to throw that and I just swung at it.”
Friis finished the game 2 for 2 with two home runs, two RBIs and two runs scored. Bump added three hits, two runs and an RBI as well for the Bearcats.
“Friis and Bump did a great job today” Burrell said. “Friis got some momentum going for us. Once she had that hit we were really able to work off of that.”
The Bearcats return to action this weekend as they begin America East play with a three-game series versus UMBC. First pitch is set for Saturday at noon with a second game immediately following. The series will conclude on Sunday at noon. All games will take place at the Bearcats sports complex.