Vestal (WBNG BINGHAMTON) Senior first baseman Shaun McGraw delivered a walk-off RBI single with one out in the bottom of the 11th inning to give Binghamton (16-20, 8-9 America East) a 4-3 win over visiting Hartford (24-16, 10-4 AE) Sunday afternoon at the Bearcats Sports Complex.
The extra-inning win over the first-place Hawks in the rubber game of the three-game set gave surging BU its sixth win in the last seven games and moved the reigning champions into the third-place position in the conference standings with six league games remaining. The top four teams advance to the America East tournament.
Binghamton outhit Hartford 16-7 but left 13 runners stranded before McGraw cashed in. Senior center fielder Bill Bereszniewicz drew a leadoff walk to open the bottom of the 11th. Senior second baseman Daniel Nevares was hit-by-pitch, putting runners on first and second with no out. After a shallow pop-up to center, McGraw stepped in and drove a 2-1 pitch through the left side of the infield. The speedy Bereszniewicz rounded third and scored as the throw from left field was up the line. It’s the second straight year BU has beaten Hartford on an extra-inning walk-off hit.
Freshman Nicholas Liegi pitched three shutout innings to earn his first collegiate win. Liegi (W, 1-0) scattered three hits and worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the top of the 11th to keep the scored knotted at 3-3. The 5-foot-8 walk-on gave up a bad-hop double to start the frame and after an ensuing single, the Hawks had runners on first and third with no out. Liegi induced an infield pop-up and then a shallow fly to left field that couldn’t advance the runners. He then got a fly ball to center to leave three stranded.
Sophomore starter Jake Cryts scattered four hits in 6.0 innings but Hartford took advantage of five walks to get a run in the second and two go-ahead runs in the sixth. Down 3-1, BU tied it with a pair in the seventh. Freshman catcher Eddie Posavec and junior right fielder Zach Blanden opened with back-to-back singles. Bereszniewicz put down a bunt single to load the bases. Two batters later, junior left fielder Jake Thomas hit an RBI grounder to second that was misplayed into an error. McGraw followed with a fly ball to deep center that easily scored Blanden with the tying run, albeit unearned.
Junior Mike Urbanski relieved Cryts and tossed two scoreless innings before Liegi entered in the ninth. He pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, stranded the go-ahead runner on second in the 10th inning with two straight groundouts and then held firm in the 11th.
Blanden went 4-for-6 to cap his big weekend. He hit .500 (7-for-14) with six RBI in the three games. Senior shortstop John Howell went 3-for-5 with an RBI and Posavec also went 3-for-5. Sophomore third baseman Reed Gamache had two hits and McGraw had two RBI, highlighted by the game-winning hit. Thomas’ RBI was his team-high 30th of the season.
The Bearcats will play their final midweek non-conference game Tuesday at Siena.
(Courtesy: Binghamton University)