In a three-game series with conference-rival UMBC this weekend, the Binghamton baseball team came up short and was decisively swept by a total score of 17-10.
The Retrievers (10-9, 4-2 America East) pushed Saturday’s opener to 13 innings after coming back from a 9-1 deficit, eventually prevailing for a 10-9 win to set the tone of the weekend. Returning to the park on Sunday, the two teams played a whole other ballgame. Two stingy pitching staffs kept scoring low, and the Retrievers’ 3-1, 4-0 Sunday sweep was a product of clutch hitting as Binghamton (4-12, 1-5 AE) left runner after runner stranded.
“If you looked at the box score, after we scored our nine runs on Saturday, we went the next 25 innings and only scored one run,” Binghamton head coach Tim Sinicki said. “I’ve got to give some credit — a lot of credit — to the pitching staff at UMBC for the job that they did.”
On Saturday, BU scored all nine of its runs in the first four innings. With two runners on base in the top of the second, senior outfielder Zach Blanden homered to left field, driving in freshman infielder Paul Rufo and sophomore catcher Eddie Posavec to put three on board. Come the third, BU constructed a five-run advantage behind RBIs from Posavec and freshman infielder CJ Krowiak, all before UMBC scored even one.
After Skidmore homered in the top of the fourth, driving in junior infielder Reed Gamache and senior outfielder Jake Thomas, freshman catcher Jason Agresti drove in the last run for the Bearcats to construct a 9-1 lead. From there, Binghamton wouldn’t score again.
UMBC plated four runs in the bottom of the fourth and two apiece in the fifth and eighth innings to tie the score at 9-9. And after a scoreless ninth, what initially looked like a surefire win for Binghamton was propelled into extra innings. Four more scoreless innings later, and UMBC came away with a close victory after plating one in the bottom of the 13th.
After those first four productive innings, Binghamton recorded just six of its 15 total hits through the next nine. Combine that with its stagnant production through Sunday’s doubleheader, and BU’s bats struck out swinging.
“I have to sit down with my coaching staff and sit down with the players and talk about our approach to the way we attacked their pitching staff offensively, which obviously we didn’t do a very good job with,” Sinicki said. “I think it was a combination of the fact that UMBC pitched really well and we didn’t do a good job at making adjustments on the offensive side of things.”
Binghamton’s pitching staff was about as stingy as UMBC’s, however, allowing six hits through all of Sunday to the Retrievers’ 10. But it was the hosts’ situational hitting that made the difference.
“What it really came down to is, they got a couple of clutch hits with runners on base that we didn’t,” Sinicki explained. “And sometimes, it’s just that simple.”
When UMBC loaded up bases in the third, junior infielder Anthony Gatto headed to the plate with two outs and tripled to drive in all three of his team’s runs in the second game. The Retrievers’ performance was more modest in the rubber match, through which they plated one run in each of the first, second, fourth and eighth innings for the win. But for a Binghamton team that failed to string anything together — and that stranded 13 Bearcats through the two games — that was enough.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Sinicki summed up. “I thought we played hard — I never question how hard we play … but we’re just struggling right now to find consistency and trying to put together a complete game.”
Fortunately for the Bearcats, fair weather may be coming their way. That’s both figurative and literal: While a winter that overstayed its welcome has caused postponements and cancellations left and right — and relegated Binghamton practices to indoors — spring may allow the Bearcats to finally step onto Varsity Field. And, on the other hand, midweek non-conference games allow Sinicki to switch around the lineup and stretch his pitchers’ arms to prepare for weekend conference series.
One of those opportunities comes today, with a single game against Penn State. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. at University Park, Pennsylvania.