For Binghamton baseball, this weekend was one of milestones.
Head coach Tim Sinicki was just two shy of his 500th career win entering the weekend. With his team emerging victorious, 2-1, out of its three-game series at NYIT, Binghamton’s longest-tenured coach reached that milestone in decisive style after a 5-1 rubber-match victory to top things off on Sunday.
“I guess it’s a milestone,” Sinicki said. “But for me, personally, it’s more about an opportunity to reflect on how I got to that number. And how I got there is pretty simple: I’ve been very fortunate and feel very blessed to have surrounded myself by such great student-athletes and great coaches for the past 23 years.”
Sinicki recorded his first win on April 7, 1993, right around when the members of his current team were born. And those current Bearcats, who entered this season as the two-time reigning champs of the America East, have experienced that success firsthand. Senior centerfielder Zach Blanden likewise reached a milestone on Sunday, recording his 200th hit in the ninth inning of Sunday’s victory.
“I looked at him and said, ‘Hey, congratulations,’ and he looked at me and said, ‘Hey, same to you,’” Sinicki said. “So it’s kind of a nice coincidence for something like that to happen on the same day.”
Against independent NYIT this weekend, Binghamton (14-16-1, 6-8 AE) opened Saturday’s doubleheader with a sluggish 1-0 loss to the Bears (11-22) before rallying to take the nightcap, 3-1.
Freshman right-fielder Chris McGee was responsible for all three runs for BU on its first day of play, belting a three-run homer in the seventh and final inning to distinguish the second game from the first. That is, Binghamton entered the final inning down, 1-0, with a repeat of its 1-0 loss hanging in the rearview.
In what was a solid showing from the bottom of the order, freshman designated hitter Pat Britt hit a single up the middle to get on base first in the bottom of the seventh, freshman outfielder CJ Krowiak pinch ran to follow and freshman shortstop Paul Rufo bunted to allow Krowiak and himself to advance. With no outs but a shutout on the line, McGee — who went 3-for-3 in the contest — swung on the first pitch he was thrown and sent the ball sailing over the right wall, securing a win and his first collegiate home run.
“I thought about the situation as [McGee] was running the bases, and it was nice to have four freshmen involved in what ended up being the game-winning rally,” Sinicki said. “It’s the bottom of the order that has to come through every so often, and they did a good job getting it done on Saturday in the second game.”
Senior reliever Anthony Grillini picked up his third win in 2015 after retiring the side in order in the seventh inning. Junior starter Mike Bunal threw five innings before him, scattering three hits and striking out five.
On Sunday, Binghamton’s production came more typically through the top and middle of the order. Through junior third baseman David Schanz’s RBI, Binghamton plated a run in the third inning to open scoring. With two outs, Blanden walked and stole second, reaching home base on Schanz’s subsequent single.
In the fifth inning, Binghamton added the remaining four runs on two hits and three walks. Schanz recorded another RBI before Blanden reached home on an error. Finishing scoring for BU, sophomore first baseman Brendan Skidmore hit a two-RBI triple, driving in Schanz and junior second baseman Reed Gamache.
Junior right-hander Rob Hardy pitched five innings, allowing one hit in the fourth while retiring nine and striking out three for the win. Four relief pitchers threw one inning apiece in the contest, with only one allowing a hit and a run, by which the Bears prevented a shutout in the ninth inning.
In the first game, the teams combined for just seven hits. Senior starter Greg Ostner threw all six innings for BU, scattering four hits and striking out five. However, the Bears plated an unearned run in the sixth inning off an error, granting them their 1-0 shutout victory.
Senior left fielder Jake Thomas did not play through the series due to injury. Sinicki said he hopes the former first-team all-conference player will return for this weekend’s home series against conference-rival UMBC.
Next up for the Bearcats is a home contest today against non-conference opponent St. Bonaventure. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. at the Baseball Complex in Vestal, N.Y.