For the first time in program history, the Binghamton baseball team recorded a win over a top-25 ranked opponent. The Bearcats (7-3) completed a four-game sweep of No. 19 Virginia Tech on Sunday afternoon. Aided by timely hitting and dominant relief pitching, BU was prepared for any situation Virginia Tech (9-5) handed it.
“I don’t want to look back at this weekend and have us beating [Virginia Tech] be the highlight of the year,” said BU head coach Tim Sinicki. “The most important games are still ahead of us, but in the moment, it was a great weekend for our program.”
On Friday night, the Bearcats opened the series by defeating the Hokies, 12-5. Junior pitcher Joe Orlando pitched a phenomenal 4.2 innings in relief, striking out seven batters to earn the win. Offensively, junior shortstop Paul Rufo went 3-for-5, scoring three runs and merely beginning what turned out to be a record weekend at the plate for him.
Overall, BU played a balanced game at the plate, with eight players recording at least one hit. Heading into the closing innings, BU barely held on to its 6-5 lead. But, a couple of small-ball runs scored on a wild pitch and a double play provided BU with a comfortable three-run lead.
In a dramatic double-header on Saturday, the Bearcats won both games in 11 innings. In the first game, Rufo continued his dominant play, batting 4-for-6 with five RBIs. The Bearcats and Hokies found themselves tied at eight heading into extra innings. In the top of the eleventh, sophomore third baseman Justin Yurchak drove in junior center fielder CJ Krowiak with a double, giving the Bearcats a 9-8 lead. In the bottom of the inning, sophomore pitcher Cal Lawrence allowed just one base runner to reach and completed the save.
In the second game on Saturday, the Bearcats played another thriller. Rufo was involved in nearly all the late-game offense, tying the game in the top of the eighth before reaching on an error to take a 6-5 lead in the top of the eleventh. Rufo’s batting was key to BU’s 3-0 start to the series, providing the team with consistent offense to help the pitching weather one of the nation’s most potent lineups.
“[Rufo’s] continued to grow as a player, specifically as a hitter,” Sinicki said. “He’s got a big opportunity now, being moved up from the bottom to the top of the order.”
In Sunday’s series finale, the Bearcats stifled the Hokies’ lineup throughout the game. Junior pitcher Nick Wegmann provided seven innings in the start, allowing only one run and striking out five. Offensively, the Bearcats scored two early runs in the third inning. Rufo provided an RBI single and Yurchak grounded into a double play, providing BU with a 2-0 lead. Wegmann and freshman pitcher Ben Anderson never squandered it. Anderson provided two hitless innings of relief, leading to his first career save.
“[Our relievers] did a great job,” Sinicki said. “Everyone who was brought into the game really responded well, no matter what the situation was. Whether it was in the middle of the game or late in the game, they came in and gave us what we asked of them.”
The Bearcats are set to take the field against Wagner on Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m. from the Bob Hannah Stadium in Newark, Delaware.