Immediate Release: May 26, 2004
Binghamton University baseball is well represented on the 2004 America East All-Conference Teams. On the eve of the conference tournament, six BU players were selected as all-stars - second most behind Maine. The Bearcats, under head coach Tim Sinicki, completed their season with a 22-21 record, including a 9-11 conference mark. The win total was more than double the team's 2003 output, and the 15 1/2-game turnaround (12 more wins and 19 fewer losses) will likely be among the best in the country.
Senior third baseman Jay Balback (Millsboro, Del.) was the top honoree, earning first team all-conference accolades after a record-breaking season. Balback, chosen as the top third baseman in the eight-team league, ripped a school-record 14 home runs and also established the career home run mark with 27 round-trippers in just two seasons. Balback, the team's MVP, ranked among the conference top-5 in 10 offensive categories, including home runs (1st), slugging percentage (1st), on-base percentage (2nd) and RBI (3rd). He batted a team-best .348 and drove in 45 runs in 43 games.
Three Bearcats were chosen for the second team - senior right fielder T.J. Kowalchuk (Stormville, N.Y.), junior first baseman Jamie Boyer (Lancaster, Pa.) and freshman left fielder Brendon Hitchcock (Laceyville, Pa.).
Kowalchuk, a first-team choice in 2003, became the program's all-time hits king in late April, and concluded his stellar four-year career with 179 hits. He was second to Balback in average (.320) and third in RBI (35), and ranks first in career doubles (38), second in career home runs (22) and third in career RBI (115).
Boyer made a strong comeback after a wrist injury sidelined him during the entire 2003 season. The power-hitting lefty slugged 10 home runs, including a school-record five in a doubleheader against Albany. He hit .338 in conference play, driving in 28 runs in 20 games against America East opponents. Boyer wound up with 40 RBI - second most on the team.
Hitchcock made a big splash in his first collegiate season, earning second team as well as All-Rookie honors. He was the only freshman named to either team. The left fielder/designated hitter hit .305 with 14 extra-base hits and 30 RBI. He had a team-best 14-game hit streak in mid-season.
Joining Hitchcock on the All-Rookie Team were second baseman Matt Simek (Vestal, N.Y.) and catcher Pat Haughie (St. James, N.Y.). Simek seized the starting job early in the season and drove in 11 runs in 18 conference games. He batted .262 with 10 extra-base hits and stole 7-of-8 bases. Haughie was deadly with his arm behind the plate, throwing out 36% of baserunners. In conference play, he led the team with a .419 on-base percentage.
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