Hosting the America East tournament as the No. 6 seed, the Binghamton baseball team faced off against No. 3 NJIT for the fourth time in eight days and ultimately suffered a 5-2 defeat in an elimination game, ending the Bearcats’ season.

“We did have opportunities in that game to score and we just didn’t [get] a big hit when we needed to,” said Binghamton head coach Tim Sinicki. “We didn’t execute the opportunity to get guys in with less than two outs.”

NJIT’s (25-26, 12-11 AE) offense got to work quickly against Binghamton’s (21-29, 10-14 AE) ace and senior pitcher Gabe Driscoll, who got the nod on the mound. The Highlanders scored runs in each of the first three innings, plating three runs in the first, and one in the second and third. Driscoll was knocked out of the game in the second inning, lasting just 1.2 innings and surrendering four runs on six hits.

“I felt like I had to make a change when I did,” Sinicki said. “That’s hard as a coach to go out and pull your number one guy who’s been so good all year in the second inning of a lose-or-go-home type of game. I made sure that he knew before he left the mound how much he had done for the program that year and this outing was not going to define his final year at Binghamton.”

Sinicki then turned to senior pitcher Nelson Berkwich. In the meantime, Binghamton got on the board in the fourth, courtesy of a solo home run by junior infielder Devan Bade, after going 9-for-13 against the Highlanders just last weekend.

Then, in the fifth inning, freshman outfielder Todd Abraham smacked a double into the right center gap to plate another run to make it 5-2. Despite loading the bases in the seventh inning with just one out, Binghamton was unable to generate a run as junior second baseman Nick Roselli and Bade were retired, ending the threat.

“During practice, we set that situation up, and we have guys work on driving balls to the outfield to get guys in, maybe using the middle of the field to get guys in when the field’s back,” Sinicki said. “Sometimes it’s just just a little bit of bad luck.”

The Bearcats also left two runners stranded in the eighth and ninth innings. In the ninth inning, after two consecutive singles from Roselli and Bade, with two outs, senior outfielder Mike Gunning stepped up to the plate as the game tying run. However, Gunning flew out to left, as Binghamton fell 5-2.

“Given the challenges that we had throughout the course here, we did about as much as we could possibly do,” Sinicki said. “Unfortunately, we just didn’t extend the season as long as we wanted to.”

Berkwich spun 5.1 innings in relief out of the bullpen, pitching into the eighth inning, giving up just one run and keeping the Bearcats in the game. Abraham went 3-for-4 with an RBI and Bade went 2-4 with an RBI.

“[Berkwich] knew heading into the game that if I needed some length, I was gonna go to him,“ Sinicki said. “He came in and he was ready. He did a great job and kept us around.”

Binghamton’s injury-plagued season now comes to an end. BU was without two key starters, senior outfielder Tommy Reifler and junior outfielder Logan Haskell. On a more positive note, several Bearcats earned individual accolades with Driscoll, Gunning and junior catcher Evin Sullivan being named to the all-conference first team and Roselli earning a spot on the all-conference second team, despite missing a chunk of the season.

“When we started back in February, I don’t think if you would have said to me, ‘hey coach, going into the [AE] tournament, you’re gonna have a catcher playing center field and a freshman infielder playing left field,’ I probably wouldn’t have believed you,” Sinicki said.

Sinicki discussed his expectations for next year and the team’s plans to rebuild, specifically in regards to the pitching staff and finding the necessary pieces through the transfer portal, while developing young players and the new Bearcats coming into the program.

“We have a pretty good nucleus coming back, position player-wise,” Sinicki said. “The biggest area of concern is pitching. We lose a lot of innings. But I really liked the talent that we had with our freshmen. I thought we got a lot of mileage out of guys like [freshman pitcher Jackson Mitchell], [freshman pitcher Hayden Tarsia] and [freshman pitcher Conner Griffin] this year. I’m happy where we’re at in terms of moving into next year, but I’ll be happier with a couple of key pieces from the portal.”