The Binghamton baseball team rebounded from last weekend’s series sweep with a 6-5 walk-off win over Siena on Tuesday, only to be swept again over the weekend by America East-rival Maine at Mahaney Diamond in Orono, Maine.
With last weekend won by fellow AE-member UMBC, this marked the second straight series Binghamton (17-22-1, 6-14 AE) was unable to capitalize on its hits against AE opponents. The two-time reigning champs now sit at the bottom of the conference, and would not only need to win all three games against Stony Brook next weekend, but would also need some of the other teams to falter in order to clinch a top-four spot and make its ninth-straight playoff appearance.
Against Maine (22-24, 8-9 AE), Binghamton’s bats were far from silent. The Bearcats recorded 30 hits to the Black Bears’ 29. But struggling to produce in clutch moments, BU left 29 on base through the three games, and that allowed Maine to jump from the bottom of the conference to stand within the top four.
In the series opener on Friday, Binghamton stranded nine and committed a season-high five errors through the nine innings to fall, 7-1, to the hosts. The Black Bears only produced one more hit than BU, 10-9, but those costly BU errors allowed Maine to score runs in four innings.
Binghamton’s lone run came in the sixth inning, when freshman catcher Jason Agresti doubled to send sophomore designated hitter Eddie Posavec to home plate.
Senior outfielder Jake Thomas recorded his 200th career hit in the opener, becoming the eighth player in program history to do so.
On the mound, senior ace Greg Ostner was saddled with the loss after allowing two earned runs on eight hits in seven innings. He also struck out three.
Binghamton saw its closest game of the series in the nightcap, settled by a 3-2 decision. The Bearcats strongly outhit their hosts, 13-6, with Thomas leading the bunch in going 3-for-4. Four additional Bearcats produced two hits in their at-bats, and yet timely hitting remained a largely unresolved issue, as BU left 11 stranded.
Binghamton led through the first four innings of game two after Thomas and sophomore infielder Brendan Skidmore notched one RBI apiece in the first. But Maine notched three earned runs in the bottom of the fifth to take the lead and finish the game’s scoring, pinning junior pitcher Mike Bunal with the loss. Bunal had allowed no hits in the first four innings.
Saturday’s rubber match was all Maine. The Black Bears produced runs in the second, fourth and eighth innings to win via a 9-0 shutout, despite only knocking five more hits, 13-8, than the Bearcats. Maine junior catcher Kevin Stypulkowski homered twice to produce each of the Black Bears’ first three runs. Six other players for Maine earned RBIs through the remaining eight innings.
Maine senior right-hander Jacob Gosselin-Deschesnes allowed no runs on eight hits in 8 2/3 innings of work, striking out three in the process.
Binghamton’s inability to capitalize on its runs against Maine was a huge shift from its play on Tuesday against MAAC-member Siena. Binghamton entered the bottom-of-the-ninth down, 5-4, with just one more chance to produce a win in front of its home fans. With one out, Thomas came up to the plate with bases loaded, the same situation he’d encountered two innings before. In that appearance, he notched an RBI on a clutch sacrifice fly. This time around, Thomas hit a double to right center, scoring freshman infielder CJ Krowiak and senior outfielder Zach Blanden for his second and third RBIs of the day.
Next up for Binghamton is a crucial three-game series with league-leading Stony Brook. For the Bearcats to have a shot at a postseason appearance, they’ll need to win all three games at home. Standing between BU and the top four are Albany, Hartford and Maine.
First game is set for noon on Friday, with the nightcap to follow shortly after. The rubber match is set for noon on Saturday. All games are to be played at the Baseball Complex in Vestal, New York.