VESTAL (WBNG BINGHAMTON) Junior left fielder Jake Thomas blasted two home runs - a grand slam and a two-run home run - and his career-high six RBI carried Binghamton baseball (12-19, 6-8 America East) to an 8-2 win over visiting Maine (14-21, 5-7 AE) in the rubber game of the three-game series Sunday afternoon from the Bearcats Sports Complex.
After absorbing two hit pitches earlier in the game, Thomas issued his own pain in the sixth inning. With the Bearcats clinging to a 2-1 lead, he hit a towering grand slam - the first of his career. Back-to-back one-out singles by junior right fielder Zach Blanden and senior center fielder Bill Bereszniewicz and a walk to senior second baseman Daniel Nevares loaded the bases. Thomas then drove the first pitch he saw from Black Bears’ pitcher Scott Heath well over the wall in right field for a 6-1 cushion.
After Maine got one run back in the seventh, Thomas went back to work in the eighth. Moments after Miley Cyrus music inadvertently played over the PA system, Thomas continued his “wrecking ball” attack on Black Bears pitching by searing a 2-1 pitch over the right-field fence for a two-run homer. It was the second two-homer game of his career. Thomas blasted a pair of two-run shots last May 18 at Albany.
The pair of Thomas blasts helped make amends after BU left the bases loaded in three of the first five innings. Binghamton scored single runs in the second and third frames but couldn’t register the big hit to extend its lead. Maine wound up outhitting the Bearcats 9-8 but Black Bear pitchers walked four batters and hit five, aiding BU’s offense.
Before Thomas unloaded in the bottom of the seventh, sophomore starter Jake Cryts (W, 3-4) worked out of a jam in the top of the inning to preserve the one-run lead. With one out, three straight Maine hitters reached base (two singles and an error) before Cryts induced two straight pop-ups to strand three. The Black Bears left nine on-base and BU had 10 LOB.
Cryts surrendered two runs on nine hits in 6.2 innings. He struck out one and walked one. Freshman Jextin Pugh tossed 2.1 perfect innings to close it out. Pugh came in with two runners on in the seventh and got a fly ball to center to thwart Maine’s rally. He then pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and then allowed no hits in the ninth.
Thomas went 2-for-3 with the two home runs and six RBI. Bereszniewicz went 2-for-5 with two runs scored. Senior DH Shaun McGraw had an RBI single to the wall in the third inning and freshman catcher Eddie Posavec earned the other RBI on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch.
With the win, defending champion Binghamton moved past Maine and into fourth position in the America East standings with nine conference games remaining.
The Bearcats play two non-conference games this week - Tuesday at Cornell and Wednesday at St. Bonaventure - before BU welcomes Hartford to the Sports Complex for a three-game weekend series.
Thomas leads the America East with six home runs… he also has a team-high 25 RBI… In four games this week, Thomas hit .615 (8-for-13) with eight RBI.
(Courtesy: Binghamton University)