VESTAL (WBNG) - "Kind of felt like we got cheated a little bit," said Binghamton senior shortstop Paul Rufo on how the 2017 season ended.
The word cheated for a team that won 30 games and the America East regular season title usually doesn't fit, but with how last year ended for Binghamton baseball it's easy to understand how Rufo and the Bearcats feel.
Rufo was Binghamton starting shortstop until he broke his hand, ending his season. Starting second baseman Luke Tevlin also missed the end of the year with an aggravated elbow. Brendan Skidmore, Binghamton starting first baseman, suffered a similar fate when he broke his wrist. All three starters were out of the year, leading Binghamton to reshuffle its lineup.
With Rufo, Tevlin and Skidmore all sidelined, the Bearcats were quickly eliminated in the America East tournament. Two games played, two losses. Now as Binghamton enters 2018 as the conference favorite once again, the Bearcats are using the feeling of being cheated as motivation.
"Just to go two-and-out in the tournament, especially for me not being able to contribute, really took a toll on me," said Binghamton senior shortstop Paul Rufo. "This team, this year, we have the sense of redemption."
"Injuries are part of the game and they happen to everybody," said Binghamton senior catcher Jason Agresti. "Last year, we just had an unfortunate run where we had a lot of guys go down, a lot of key players go down. So we're going into this year with a little chip on our shoulder, like we have something to prove."
Binghamton opens its season Friday night at Northwestern State University in Louisiana. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.