It was the bottom of the seventh in the last half-inning of the game. The Bearcats were losing to the Great Danes by two after they had engineered a five-run comeback earlier in the game. Senior infielder Kate Richard — Binghamton’s home run leader with six — came to the plate. She smacked home run number seven over the outfield wall, but the game was still stuck at 7-6. That is, until freshman infielder Makayla Alvarez launched the tying run out of the park. After back-to-back home runs, the Bearcats (13-23, 6-9 America East) suddenly tied it up for the second time in the game, sending the match to extra innings.
Even the miraculous comebacks could not help Binghamton pull off the win as it fell to Albany (25-13, 10-4 AE), 8-7, in the 10th inning due to an unearned run that came home as a result of a single and an error.
“Obviously we would have liked a different outcome, but I like the fight that they showed later on during the game,” said BU head coach Michelle Johnston.
The last time these teams met, the Bearcats split a doubleheader with the Great Danes, dropping the first game 10-0 before edging Albany 6-5 in round two game. Freshman pitcher Chelsea Howard recorded the win in the second game behind strong efforts from senior center fielder Jessica Rutherford, who batted .429 in the doubleheader, and sophomore first baseman Kassidy Seary, who recorded a double and a homer.
On Wednesday, Albany jumped to an early three-run advantage in the top of the first, pulling ahead to a 5-0 advantage in the third. Just as the game seemed to be moving away from the Bearcats, Alvarez started off a three-run inning with an RBI single. Then, sophomore pitcher Rozlyn Price, who started the game for the Bearcats, smashed a home run over the center-field fence to bring the game to 5-3.
The Bearcats soon tied up the game at five in the bottom of the fifth when sophomore catcher Sara Herskowitz recorded a double just past the center fielder’s reach. The lead did not last long, however, as Albany responded with a two-run triple in the following inning. Then came the heroic back-to-back home runs from Richard and Alvarez to tie it up before multiple errors by BU in the tenth allowed an unearned run to score. Alvarez ended the game going 2-for-5 with two RBIs, three runs and the home run that tied the game.
The first game played at the Bearcats’ new home field was definitely a thriller, but Johnston was not happy with the way her team started the game.
“I thought we came out and we weren’t really working with our at-bats,” Johnston said. “We were swinging at pitches out of the zone and not being disciplined … I think we had lots of opportunities. I think they know this game could have easily gone the other way. So, we’re not gonna bury our heads by any means. We’re gonna come back, we’re gonna practice a little out here tomorrow and gonna get ready for Friday.”
One favorable sign for the Bearcats as the postseason looms is the pitching of sophomore Rayn Gibson. After ranking second in the conference with a 3.37 ERA, Gibson’s numbers have dropped. Her ERA rose to 4.44 before today and her record now stands at 5-12. Despite the poor performances, Gibson pitched solidly down the stretch for the Bearcats. She tossed four innings, striking out three batters while allowing only three hits and one unearned run.
“I thought [Gibson] came in ready to go,” Johnston said. “Right from the start she set a good tone and I really liked the way she was able to pick up after [Howard].”
This was not Binghamton’s first huge seventh-inning comeback surge this season. It had just come back from a 4-2 deficit against Maine in the seventh before also becoming overpowered in that game. Despite the losses, Johnston is confident in her team’s ability to fight back as it nears the playoffs.
“I think they feel confident that no matter what the score is … they’re gonna be able to come back and we just want to make sure that we’re doing what we can early on, too,” Johnston said.
Despite being second to last in the AE conference, BU has taken two of its last four games against AE teams and lost the other two matchups by only one run each.
Binghamton looks to continue improving in a three-game series against Hartford starting Friday, May 4. First pitch of the Friday doubleheader is scheduled for 2 p.m. from the Bearcats Sports Complex in Vestal, New York.