The Binghamton baseball team, who won the America East (AE) Championship last year, looks to prove its status once again in 2023. BU finished second in the AE Baseball Division B, with a 22-30 overall record and 15-15 conference record, as the team swept the three games they played in the 2022 America East Baseball Championship. The Bearcats are scheduled to begin their season this weekend at Clemson and build off of the success from last year.

“When they came back, there was excitement about the championship from last year,” said Binghamton head coach Tim Sinicki. “Our focus has now shifted to trying to prepare for the America East tournament this coming year here at Binghamton. We have a long ways to go.”

Last year, BU advanced to the NCAA Regionals as the AE representatives as well as playing for the right to play in the NCAA College World Series. BU played one game against Stanford Cardinal, losing 20-7, only before dropping a second game against the UC Santa Barbara 9-4.

“I think the backbone of a team is the pitching staff,” said senior pitcher Thomas Babalis. “And we have a lot of guys who we can put in any situation at any given moment, and we can trust them to get out whenever we need to.”

As a junior in 2022, current senior starting pitcher Babalis started 16 games, accumulated a 4-7 record and was selected to second team all-conference. In the regular season, Babalis mounted a 4.98 ERA and struck out 86 batters in a team-high 85.0 innings, which was the third-highest strikeout rate in program history. A standout moment of his season came against NJIT, when Babalis struck out nine Highlanders during a May 26 postseason win. The Bearcats went on to win that game 20-3.

“Yeah, I think there’s a lot of potential to be better,” Babalis said. “Just like with all the arms coming back, we’re just getting better. A bunch of fifth years, a bunch of seniors — we brought in a few freshmen who are going to get the beginning of this year.”

Freshmen newcomers include pitchers Dan McAliney, Aidan Pawlak, Andrew Fingleton, catcher Matt Deutsch, infielder Mike Stellrecht and outfielder Nick Ungania.

“We open up this weekend in Clemson,” Sinicki said. “[We’ll] try to continue to develop our guys throughout the course of the season and hopefully play our best baseball come April and May when it matters most.”

Coach Sinicki is entering his 31st season as the leading member of the Bearcats coaching staff. Returning to Binghamton with Sinicki for the 2023 season are 25 lettermen, three all-conference selections, the team’s first seven hitters in the lineup and its entire weekend rotation from a 2022 team that claimed its fifth America East championship.

“You don’t get better if you don’t challenge our guys,” Sinicki said. “We try not to really worry about the wins and losses too much early on.

Sophomore outfielder Logan Haskell started 37 out of the 41 games in which he played, 31 of those being in centerfield. Hitting .310 with 45 hits, five doubles, and 19 RBIs, Haskell notched a .409 on-base percentage and was named to America East All-Rookie Team. Haskell, who hit .500 in his senior season in high school, notched a double and two singles over the course of the two NCAA regional games.

“You just never get tired of doing the hard stuff, you keep working every day,” Haskell said. “[You can’t get] relaxed out there because maybe a freshman this year comes and takes your job. You still got to keep working [every single day].”

Sophomore catcher Evin Sullivan started all 49 games a season ago and was selected AE and ECAC Rookie of the Year. Sullivan hit .365 with team-highs of 70 hits, 15 doubles, 23 extra-base hits and 42 RBIs.

“We just try to worry about getting better each and every day and developing as a program and as a team,” Sinicki said.

The Bearcats open their season with a three-game series against Clemson University starting on Friday, Feb. 17. First pitch of Game 1 is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina.