For Immediate Release: February 22, 2010
Contact: John Hartrick (
Phone: 607-777-6800

BU baseball ready to defend America East crown
Bearcats have talent to make repeat run at NCAAs

VESTAL, N.Y. -- Binghamton baseball will enter the 2010 season as the defending America East tournament champions - a new label for a program that has been the winningest conference member over the last six seasons (61%) but hadn't advanced to the NCAA tournament until last spring.

Now the Bearcats, under 18th-year head coach Tim Sinicki, will look to carry the momentum of the record-breaking '09 season into the 2010 campaign.

"The 2009 season was special, no doubt about it," Sinicki said. "This year's team, however, cannot look back and assume anything. With a difficult schedule and the conference improving each and every year, the 2010 team needs to focus on what's ahead of them if they want to reach their goals for the season."

In addition to returning to the NCAAs, Binghamton will look to extend two impressive streaks in 2010: raising its win total in consecutive seasons, currently at six, and consecutive regular season conference crowns, now at three. The consecutive seasons with an increased win total is already the longest of any Division I program in the country. Binghamton has bumped up its final number by one in each of the last three seasons (28-29-30).

"Sure the streak is nice, but it can't last forever," Sinicki said. "There are too many variables ... difficultly of schedule, weather, those types of things. All we can do as a program is try to prepare our team to win as many games as possible, make sure we're peaking at the right time, and put ourselves in a position at the end of the season to challenge for a shot at the conference title."

Program took hits to graduation, MLB draft
Continuing the program's success and growth will not come without its challenges in 2010. For the second straight season, Sinicki will have to replace his pitching ace, half his starting weekend rotation and several all-conference players. Gone is hard-throwing righty Murphy Smith, the America East and ECAC Pitcher of the Year who signed a professional contract with the Oakland Athletics after being drafted as a junior in the 13th round.

The school's all-time saves leader and two-time conference all-star Greg Lane has graduated, leaving a void in the bullpen. Also gone is four-year 6-foot-6 lefty starter Jeff Dennis, another MLB draft pick who struck out nine to clinch the America East championship over Albany.

In the daily lineup, BU will miss four-year starter and two-time all-conference infielder Kyle Klee, who graduated among the program's top-five in runs, hits and RBI.

Taylor, Dunn lead dynamic outfielding corps
Sinicki has eight of nine position players back and nowhere is BU more talented than in its outfield. The trio of juniors Corey Taylor, Henry Dunn and senior Joe Charron has been stellar.

Taylor had a break-out season in 2009, earning first team all-conference and second team all-region accolades after hitting .340 with 16 home runs and 56 RBI. His home run and RBI totals were school records and Taylor also impressed at the NCAA Regional, batting .417 with five RBI in the three games.

"Corey has worked extremely hard to become one of the most dangerous offensive players in the conference," Sinicki said. "He'll be counted on to sit in the middle of our lineup and be a run producer. We've got to do a good job at the top of the lineup to give him those opportunities."

Dunn returned from injury to make an impact in BU's late-season push. He hit .347 and patrolled center field flawlessly. At the NCAA Regional, Dunn drilled a home run to help beat George Mason. A former Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American, Dunn's combination of speed, defense and hitting has put him on the radar of Major League Baseball scouts.

"Henry is a special player," Sinicki said. "He has the ability to change a game on both offense and defense. He has the rare combination of speed and power on offense, and can run down balls in the outfield as well as anyone I've seen on defense."

Outfielder/designated hitter Charron started all 52 games and also finished strong, hitting .324 with 22 RBI in his last 21 games. One of his biggest performances was a 3-for-5, two-home run, four-RBI showing against East Carolina at the NCAA Regional. Charron also ranked 14th in the country in sacrifice flies.

Junior Pete Bregartner also is in the mix in the outfield. He is a lean lefty who shook off a slow start to his sophomore season and hit .296 in 42 starts. Bregartner batted .393 over the final 21 games of the season, however, and delivered a home run and four RBI at the NCAA Regional.

Ciocchi, Calderone anchor infield
Sophomore first baseman Dave Ciocchi and senior second baseman Jim Calderone are coming off exceptional seasons in 2009.

Ciocchi produced perhaps the finest freshman season of any Bearcat in school history, batting .381 with 41 RBI in 41 starts. His numerous accolades included Louisville Slugger and Ping! Freshman All-America, America East Rookie of the Year and NCAA Regional all-tournament honors. Ciocchi was particularly rough on America East pitchers, hitting .455 with 27 RBI in 20 league games (.773 slugging). At the NCAA Regional, he played like a big-school veteran, hitting 6-for-14 with eight RBI in three games.

"Dave was a real shot in the arm for us last season," Sinicki said. "We knew all along during the recruiting process that he could really hit, we might not have known that his contributions were going to be so major so early. But what might be more impressive about his freshman season is that we literally threw him into a position he had hardly played before and he handled it extremely well."

Calderone is a gritty junior college transfer who was crucial to BU's success in 2009. He hit .358 with team-highs of 72 hits and 53 runs scored - both one number shy of the school record. At the America East championship, Calderone went 8-of-13 to earn Most Outstanding Player honors.

"Jim is our catylast ... no question," Sinicki said. "The transition from junior college to Division I was seamless for him last season. He played way above my expectations and knowing Jim he'll want to be even better this season. He's probably the guy nobody in the conference wants to see in the box with the game on the line."

Senior infielder Jeff Abrams is back to handle the duties at shortstop. Abrams started 51 games last season and hit .294. He jumped his numbers up in the stretch run, hitting .351 in the team's final 23 games, including a 4-for-11 showing at the NCAA Regional. Abrams has started 74 collegiate games and is a durable player and academic all-star.

Talented freshmen Joel Stubbs and Jordon Smucker will see time on the left side of the infield as they begin promising collegiate careers.

Smucker, the cousin of former BU standout Justin Smucker, is a two-time all-section shortstop. Stubbs was an all-star third baseman for an elite program in Ontario.

Lukaszewski, Skelhorne-Gross back behind plate
Junior co-captain C.J. Lukaszewski is back to handle the brunt of the catching duties. Lukaszewski started 34 games in 2009 and worked with the pitching staff to hold down a 5.27 ERA - second lowest in the America East. He hit .336 for the season and earned a spot on the all-championship team after hitting .545 with an on-base percentage of .625 at the conference tournament.

Junior back-up Jeff Skelhorne-Gross proved more than capable in his 21 starts, hitting .373 with a team-best on-base percentage of .474.

First-year players Steven Gitlitz and Mike Danaher will begin promising collegiate campaigns in 2010.

"I really feel fortunate with our catching situation," Sinicki said. "CJ and Jeff have done an outstanding job handling our pitchers and contributing offensively over the past two seasons. We've asked a lot of them and they have responded. Mike and Steven are also very talented players and have a chance to make immediate contributions in their first year."

Pitching staff took biggest hits in off-season
On the mound is where the Bearcats' biggest questions remain for the 2010 season. Sinicki must replace his top two weekend starters (Smith, Dennis), a record-holding closer (Lane) and the equivalent of 19 victories from last spring.

"There is no doubt that Murphy, Jeff and Greg were crucial to our success in recent years," Sinicki said. "What I really hope is that our returning pitchers watched and learned from them ... the way the prepared, the way they competed, the way they handled success and adversity."

Set to take the reigns are holdover weekend starters James Giulietti and Mike Augliera. Giulietti, a junior lefty, went 4-1 with a 5.03 ERA in 2009. He made 10 starts and went undefeated against conference opponents. In the postseason, NCAA opponents hit just .211 off him in two appearances.

"James is tough as nails ... he really likes to compete," Sinicki said. "With his mix of pitches and ability to command the strike zone, James can have a tremendous amount of success for us the next two seasons."

Augliera had a strong freshman season, going 5-3 with a 5.60 ERA in 13 appearances. He was named to the America East All-Rookie Team and also was selected to the all-championship team after a stellar relief performance against Albany allowed BU to rally for a victory.

"Mike was a strike machine last season," Sinicki said. "He challenged hitters, made them put the ball in play, and allowed his defense to work for him. He's the kind of guy players like to play behind. Mike continues to make increases in velocity and that will make his secondary stuff even more effective."

Freshman Jay Lynch, a first-team all-area pitcher from Exton, Pa., will have a solid chance to earn a weekend starting role, as will sophomore Walker McKinven, who made three starts in 2009 and pitched well at the NCAA Regional.

Relievers Morgan Smith, Alex Adami and Aaron Schuldt are dependable out of the bullpen. Smith appeared in 19 games in 2009, striking out 20 in 29 innings of primarily middle relief work. Adami is a hard-throwing righty who made 14 appearances as a freshman. Schuldt is a former scholastic all-star who pitched in 12 games last spring. Each could develop into a closer.

Schedule sends BU up against reigning NCAA champions
For the first time in program history, BU will face the defending national champions when the Bearcats travel to Baton Rouge to face powerhouse LSU on March 31. But BU will open its season one month earlier with a three-game series at Longwood (Va.) on February 27-28.

LSU won an NCAA-best 56 games and captured the program's sixth NCAA championship last spring, beating top-seeded Texas in the College World Series. The SEC champion Tigers have advanced to the NCAA Tournament 23 times.

Other schedule highlights include a pair of games at SEC member Tennessee as part of the Volunteers' tournament on March 5-7. Binghamton will also face Atlantic Sun runnerup Kennesaw State (30-22) in the tournament and play three games at Sun Belt member Louisiana-Monroe, which won 32 games in 2009.

The team will also continue traditional games against in-state opponents Cornell (April 6 and 28), Siena (April 13) and Marist (April 20). The Red Foxes won 31 games and finished third in the MAAC last spring.

In all BU has a 51-game schedule - 27 non-conference games and 24 America East games. The Bearcats play their first 22 games on the road before hosting conference rival Stony Brook in a three-game set April 10-11 at Varsity Field.

The conference schedule is a new six-team format with two divisions. Binghamton will play a pair of three-game series' against divisional mates Stony Brook and UMBC and play one four-game series against each of the other three teams (Hartford, Albany and Maine). The four teams with the best overall win percentage (in either division) will advance to the America East Championship, played May 26-28 at the highest seed.

"I am very excited with the 2010 schedule we've assembled," Sinicki said. "It has a great blend of traditional foes and new opponents. We've really tried to challege our guys with quality non-conference games both prior to and during the always-difficult America East Conference portion of the schedule."

Bearcats looking for conference title repeat, return trip to NCAAs
With a strong nucleus of starting position players back, BU has enough talent to make a run at its fourth straight America East regular season crown and second straight postseason championship. How the team's defense and relatively young and untested group of pitchers perform will dictate much of the team's success in 2010.

"I really think we have the ability to be a better offensive and defensive team in 2010 than we were last season," Sinicki said. "And although we lost some key guys from our pitching staff, I really like our depth and I think we might have more talent from top to bottom. If our pitchers can develop during the course of our non-conference schedule, I think we're gonna be a very good team come time for the America East schedule."

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