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Baseball drops nailbiters but clinches playoff spot
BU loses to Maine 4-3 and 13-7 in extras, but still claims 7th straight postseason berth
May 12, 2013Tweet
Contact: John Hartrick (firstname.lastname@example.org)
VESTAL, N.Y.—Maine (31-19, 18-8 AE) squandered a 5-1 lead in the late innings but batted around in the 10th and scored eight runs en route to a 13-7 win over Binghamton (25-21, 14-12 AE) in the second game of a twinbill Sunday afternoon from the Bearcats Sports Complex. The visiting Black Bears took the opener 4-3 and won two of the three games in the hotly-contested series, which featured a pair of one-run games and an extra-inning affair.
Despite the two losses, BU clinched its seventh straight postseason berth. The Bearcats assured themselves of a top-4 finish in the America East standings heading into next weekend’s three-game set at Albany. Because the two teams directly behind them in the standings (Stony Brook and Hartford) play each other in the final series, BU will maintain a higher win percentage regardless of that series outcome.
The two games on Sunday were tightly contested with Maine hanging on to beat BU in the opener and then going to extra innings to win the nightcap, which featured a combined 28 hits, 20 runs and nine pitchers. In game 2, Binghamton erased a 5-1 deficit with two runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth to force extra innings. The Bearcats scored twice in their final at-bat and came within a foot of winning the game in the bottom of the ninth when sophomore left fielder Jake Thomas hit a liner that was snared by the Maine first baseman with the winning run set to score from third. Before that, BU tied the game on an RBI single from freshman third baseman David Schanz and a wild pitch.
But Maine sent 13 men to the plate in the 10th and rapped seven hits, including three doubles that went to the wall in dead center. Binghamton plated two in their half of the 10th on a Scott Musin double but it wasn’t enough.
A long way back in the nearly four-hour game, Maine hit back-to-back solo home runs to open up the second inning and build an early lead. Black Bears starter Shaun Coughlin limited BU to four hits - just one after the third inning - in 7.0 innings. Binghamton cut its margin in half when junior second baseman Daniel Nevares belted a solo shot over the right field wall in the bottom of the second. Nevares took the first offering and sent it over the right field wall for his second home run of the season. A weak double-play grounder ended the frame and stranded a runner.
The Black Bears countered with two more runs in the third - both scoring with two out. A walk, stolen base and hard-hit grounder that caromed off starter Jay Lynch scored the first run. Then with runners on first and third, Lynch appeared to have both runners picked off but couldn’t pull the trigger on the throw, and his ensuing 0-2 pitch turned into an RBI single and a 4-1 Maine cushion. Lynch got a groundout to get out of a bases-loaded jam.
The Bearcats threatened in the bottom of the third when they loaded the bases with two out. Nevares jumped on an 0-2 pitch and came with a few feet of a grand slam when his shot carried just foul in the left field corner. Nevares then popped out to center on a 3-2 pitch to stall the threat.
Freshman Jake Cryts worked 3.2 solid innings in relief of starter Jay Lynch (4 runs in 4.1 IP) and stemmed the tide by allowing just two hits and a run. Cryts came in with a runner on second in the fifth and after a stolen base, worked out of the jam with back-to-back strikeouts. He retired seven straight and nine of his first 10 batters before a wind-aided double and single gave Maine an insurance run, up 5-1.
Binghamton plated two in the eighth courtesy of a Nevares two-run double and then forced extra innings with a dramatic ninth.
Nevares wound up 2-for-4 with three RBI. Schanz went 2-for-4 with an RBI and Thomas went 2-for-4 with a run scored.
In the opener, Maine snapped a 3-3 tie with a two-out solo home run in the sixth inning. Number six hitter Brian Doran hit Jack Rogalla’s 2-1 offering over the wall in right field for his first home run of the season.
The Bearcats put their leadoff runner on in the bottom of the seventh when Nevares drew a walk. He went to second on a sacrifice bunt but a groundout and fly out ended the game.
Binghamton built a 3-1 lead but missed a few chances to stretch the lead in the early innings and the Black Bears scored runs in three straight frames to complete the comeback win.
The Bearcats opened the scoring with two runs in the second. Junior shortstop John Howell walked with one out and BU then strung together three straight singles. Sophomore catcher Nick Pancerella started by lining a 3-2 pitch into left field. With runners on first and second, junior center fielder Bill Bereszniewicz laced a 3-2 pitch to left center, scoring Howell with the game’s first run. Sophomore right fielder Zach Blanden followed with an RBI single to center field. Maine avoided further damage when its right fielder made a diving catch on a sinking liner from Schanz.
The Black Bears got on the board in the fourth with a one-out double, stolen base and sacrifice fly.
But BU struck again in the bottom of the frame. Howell opened with a double just inside the bag at third. After moving to third on a sacrifice bunt by Pancerella, Howell scored when Bereszniewicz drilled a hot shot up the middle. That hit chased Maine’s starting pitcher. Binghamton was denied more when Blanden’s hard hit to short turned into a double play.
Maine tied it with two runs on three hits in the fifth. The Black Bears stole two bases in the inning - the second of which kept them out of what could’ve been an inning-ending double play - and used a bloop single and an RBI groundout to even the score.
The Bearcats loaded the bases on two singles and a walk in the fifth but a foul fly to right ended the threat. Binghamton then put two runners on with two out in the sixth but a strikeout stranded both.
Binghamton outhit Maine 11-9 but left 10 runners stranded in seven innings.
Bereszniewicz went 2-for-3 with two RBI, Blanden went 2-for-4 with an RBI and Nevares went 2-for-3.
Rogalla (L, 4-4) scattered nine hits and four runs in 7.0 innings. He had three strikeouts and walked two.
Maine (18-8) has clinched the regular season title. Albany (15-12) moved a half-game ahead of BU and into second place and also clinched a postseason berth. Stony Brook (13-14) and Hartford (12-15) will battle it out for the other playoff spot with essentially the winner of their three-game series earning the berth. The 2-4 positions are still up for grabs heading into the final weekend of the regular season. The America East Championship will be held May 22-25 in Lowell, Mass… Thomas hit .455 in the series (5-for-11) and kept his sizzling on-base percentage above .500 (.510, top-5 in NCAA)... Nevares had two extra-base hits and three RBI in the series… Blanden had five hits and three RBI.