Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Senior pitcher Jay Lynch fired a complete-game two-hitter to lead Binghamton baseball (16-12, 7-7 America East) past Albany (13-15-1, 8-7 AE) 4-1 in the rubber game of their series Sunday afternoon at the Bearcats Sports Complex.
Lynch took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and only allowed two singles - one an infield grounder - and the Bearcats scored in each of the first three innings to take control. Lynch (3-3) lowered his ERA to 2.44 with a 119-pitch gem. He retired the side in order in five innings and threw 80 strikes, recording eight strikeouts against two walks. In four starts against conference opponents, Lynch owns a 1.20 ERA.
The Bearcats spotted Albany a 1-0 lead but then tallied single runs in each of the first two innings and added two more in the third for the final margin. Neither team scored in the final six innings.
Lynch had a dubious start to his masterful day, issuing a leadoff walk and then hitting the next batter to put himself in an early hole. After a sacrifice, the Great Danes plated their lone run on a fly ball to right field before Lynch stranded one with a groundout.
The Bearcats evened the score in the bottom of the frame, thanks to a hit and two walks. Sophomore center fielder Zach Blanden got things started with a perfect bunt single between the pitcher’s mound and third. Junior shortstop John Howell and sophomore left fielder Jake Thomas reached on back-to-back walks to load the bases. Two batters later, junior first baseman Brian Ruby brought in Blanden with sacrifice fly to right. Albany escaped further damage with a fly out as two Bearcats were stranded.
Binghamton loaded the bases again in the second as freshman third baseman Reed Gamache and Blanden recorded singles after sophomore catcher Nick Pancerella drew a one-out walk. Howell then coaxed a bases-loaded walk to bring in the go-ahead run before BU left three stranded. The Bearcats stretched their lead in the third with a pair of unearned runs. Junior right fielder Shaun McGraw walked - one of seven free passes Albany pitchers issued on the afternoon - and after a Pancerella single, Gamache reached on a fielding error by the Great Danes’ second baseman and Pancerella came around to score on the play. Blanden then made the visitors pay further with an RBI single past third base.
Lynch, meanwhile, struck out the side in the second, added two more strikeouts in the fifth, and one each of the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. His no-hitter was broken up on a two-out single to right in the sixth and the other hit was a two-out shot up the middle that glanced off his glove in the seventh. Lynch took out Albany’s final threat in the seventh when he fanned the Great Danes’ catcher with runners on first and second and the tying run at the plate.
Blanden went 3-for-5 with an RBI and Thomas reached base in three of four plate appearances to raise his league-leading on-base percentage to .542. In the three-game series, Thomas reached in 9-of-12 appearances with six walks. He also leads the America East in average (.381), slugging percentage (.536) and walks (27).
With the series win, BU (7-7) moved to within a half-game of Albany (8-7) and Hartford (8-7) for second place in the America East standings as the teams reached the halfway point of the 30-game conference slate. Maine improved to 11-3 with its sweep of UMBC (4-11). Defending champion Stony Brook (6-9) sits in fifth place. The top four teams advance to the conference tournament May 22-25 in Lowell, Mass.