Lowell, MA (WBNG BINGHAMTON) The Binghamton baseball team kept its hopes of back-to-back titles alive with a 6-3 victory over Maine in an elimination game at the 2014 America East Championship, Friday afternoon from LeLacheur Park. Sophomore Jake Cryts pitched seven strong innings and three different Bearcats drove in a pair of runs to propel Binghamton (22-25) into the losers’ bracket final against Hartford at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
Freshman catcher Eddie Posavec went 3-for-3 with two RBI, while senior Shaun McGraw was 2-for-4 with two RBI and an emphatic solo shot in the eighth inning to seal Binghamton’s victory. Junior right fielder Zach Blanden had a solid day at the plate going 1-for-3 with a pair of RBI and a run scored.
The middle of Binghamton’s order was clutch all afternoon as the five, six and seven hitters combined to go 7-for-14, scoring five of the Bearcats’ six runs. In contrast the heart of BU’s order was quiet going 3-for-14.
Cryts, who gave up two runs in the first inning, calmed down to pitch 7.1 strong innings scattering nine hits and three runs. In what seemed to be a high pitch count, the sophomore righty registered an efficient 88 pitches (54 strikes) to pick up his fifth win of the season.
After Maine (24-29) plated a pair of runs in the top half of the first inning, Binghamton quickly responded with a run of its own in the bottom of the first. Blanden drew a walk to lead off the inning then advanced to second on an infield single by senior center fielder Bill Bereszniewicz. Following two popups by Binghamton’s three and four hitters, McGraw laced a ball through the left side to score Blanden from second and trim Maine’s lead in half.
The Bearcats struck again in the fourth thanks to back-to-back singles by sophomores Reed Gamache and David Schanz putting runners on first and second with one out. Gamache and Schanz move up on stolen bases while senior shortstop John Howell drew a walk to load the bases. Posavec then stepped to the plate and sliced a 1-2 pitch to left field to score Gamache and Schanz and hand Binghamton a 3-2 lead, which they would not relinquish.
Binghamton added insurance runs in the sixth and seventh innings. Schanz again sparked the Bearcats by legging out an infield single to lead off the sixth. However, the third baseman re-aggravated a hamstring injury while advancing to first, ending his day. After Howell reached on an error and Posavec moved over the runners with a sacrifice bunt, Blanden put the Bearcats up 4-2 with a sacrifice fly to center field. In the seventh, three straight singles loaded the bases for Blanden who picked up his second RBI on a two-out infield chopper to third to put Binghamton up 5-2.
Maine scratched off a run in the top of the eighth on a two-out RBI single by Brian Doran to pull the Black Bears within two. Cryts exited the game after a one-out double by Maine starting pitcher and designated hitter Scott Heath. The Binghamton starter was relieved by freshman Nicholas Liegi, who left Doran stranded.
McGraw’s deep solo shot to left field bounced off the newly installed scoreboard at LeLacheur Park, immediately answering Maine’s run in the top half of the inning and all but sealed the win for the Bearcats.
Liegi shut down the Black Bears in the ninth retiring the side in order to pick up his first career save.
Binghamton was sound defensively playing errorless baseball and turning a pair of double-plays. However, the Bearcats did leave 12 runners stranded, loading the bases in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings.
Gamache went 2-for-5 with a pair of runs while freshman Brendan Skidmore was 1-for-1 with a run scored after replacing Schanz in the lineup. Schanz was 2-for-3 with a run scored before leaving due to his injury.
(Courtesy: Binghamton University)