After winning its home opener in walk-off fashion against St. Bonaventure, the Binghamton baseball kicked off its America East (AE) conference play with a series win at home against NJIT. After winning the first two games of the series, BU was unable to complete the sweep, falling 8-5 in the series finale.

“If we can win two out of three every weekend, we’ll be in pretty good shape at the end of the season,” said Binghamton head coach Tim Sinicki. “I’m happy that we were able to get the two wins, especially given the situation that we’re dealing with, with as many injuries and guys out of the lineup as we did.”

The Bearcats (7-10, 2-1 AE) took the series opener 8-1 over the Highlanders (6-12, 1-2 AE) , led by senior pitcher Gabe Driscoll’s five and two third innings of one-run baseball. Driscoll also added six strikeouts while only surrendering one walk and four hits. Senior outfielder Tommy Reifler led the team with three hits, adding an RBI single in the sixth inning while junior outfielder Logan Haskell collected two RBIs on a sac-fly and a double.

“Anytime you can get that kind of effort out of your starter and then back it up with good relief pitching out of the bullpen you’re gonna be in good shape,” Sinicki said. “That’s exactly what [Driscoll] did for us, as well as [senior pitcher John Lumpinski]. [Driscoll] set the tone and [Lumpinski] never let them sneak back into it, and we were able to find some ways to tack on some runs to expand the lead.”

In the second game, the Bearcats and Highlanders were locked in a pitchers duel, where sophomore pitcher Ryan Bates struck out nine over five innings. NJIT held a 3-2 lead until the sixth inning when sophomore shortstop Mike Stellrecht tied things up at three with an RBI single. The 3-3 tie sent the game to extra innings, where the Highlanders picked up two runs in the tenth inning to take a 5-3 lead heading into the bottom of the tenth inning for the Bearcats.

“[Game two was] probably as well as [Bates] has pitched for us,” Sinicki said. “The fact that he was able to use all three pitches that he has, fastball, curveball, changeup — he had all three going. [Bates] kept us in the ballgame and that’s all you can really ask your starting pitcher to do for as long as he’s out there.”

BU went to work quickly in the bottom of the 10th, as senior catcher Kevin Reilly laced a single, followed by a double from freshman first baseman Conner Griffin. A Stellrecht walk loaded the bases for senior infielder Isaiah Corry, who sent a deep drive over the right field wall for a walk-off grand slam, lifting the Bearcats to a 7-5 win.

“Couldn’t happen to a better kid,” Sinicki said. “[Corry’s] been in this program for a long time now. He’s been in and out of the lineup, [and] he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. For him to be able to turn on a pitch like he did [Saturday] in that moment not only was great [Saturday] but I hope it’s something he’ll remember forever.”

In the series finale, senior outfielder Mike Gunning started things off with a two-run home run to left field to give the Bearcats a 2-0 lead. Binghamton and NJIT went back and forth, with Binghamton taking a 5-4 lead in the fifth inning, before NJIT added four combined through the eighth and ninth innings, to secure an 8-5 win in the weekend finale. Senior pitcher Nelson Berkwich threw five and a third innings of two-run baseball for the Bearcats, striking out four, while Haskell collected five hits and scored three runs.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t make a play in the inning where they scored two runs, where we could’ve been out of the inning,” Sinick said. “I thought [Berkwich] gave us a good start, but we had the 5-4 lead and had an opportunity to tack on a run and we didn’t. Then, unfortunately we ran into a little bit of bad luck in the eighth inning. A little bit of bad luck and unfortunately we created some of that ourselves, but the one thing that I’ve learned about this team in the first third of the season is we don’t have any quit. Overall, I’m satisfied that we got two out of three, but we certainly aren’t a finished product.”

The Bearcats’ next game will be a midweek matchup against Cornell on Tuesday, March 19. First pitch is at 3 p.m. in Ithaca, NY.