Immediate Release: May 24, 2007
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. - Top-seeded Binghamton (27-17) erupted for seven runs in the last two innings to defeat fourth-seeded Maine (21-30) 9-3 in the opening game of the America East Championship Thursday afternoon from Farmington State College. The win puts the Bearcats into the winners bracket, where they will face Albany Friday night at 7:05 p.m. The third-seeded Great Danes defeated No. 2 Stony Brook 5-2 in Thursday's evening game.
Clinging to a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning, Binghamton scored four runs on five hits to break the game wide open. With one out, BU strung together three straight RBI hits - a triple by freshman center fielder Henry Dunn (Rockville Centre, N.Y.), a double by senior shortstop Justin Smucker (Bird-in-Hand, Pa.) and a single by junior third baseman Ryan James (Wading River, N.Y.). Senior second baseman Matt Simek (Vestal, N.Y.) added a two-out RBI double.
After the Black Bears scored twice in the top of the eighth to make the score 6-3, BU answered back with three more runs on two hits in the bottom of the frame. Smucker hit an RBI single, James stroked an RBI double and Simek added an RBI groundout.
"It's what we've been doing all season long," head coach Tim Sinicki said. "Our pitching has kept us in the game long enough and our hitters are running up pitch counts and taking advantage of tired pitchers or bullpens."
Junior pitcher Zach Groh (Reading, Pa.) scattered four hits and three runs in 7.2 innings of work. Groh (7-1) struck out six before giving way to sophomore reliever Greg Lane (Binghamton, N.Y.), who recorded the final four outs. Groh, a first-team all-conference selection and 2006 Pitcher of the Year, gave up two home runs but otherwise was typically stingy.
"It was a typical performance from Zach," Sinicki said. "He competes from the first pitch of the game until he's taken out. He never gives in and that's why he's our ace and that's why he's one of the best pitchers in the conference."
James went 4-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored. The No. 2 hitter, who ranks third in the nation in sacrifices, earned the praise of Sinicki.
"Ryan is a warrior," Sinicki said. "He plays hard every day. We've come to expect big things from him."
Maine opened the scoring just two batters into the game when third baseman Billy Cather belted a solo home run over the fence in right center. The Bearcats evened it in the bottom of the frame on two hits and an error. James hit a one-out single and moved to second on a balk. Two batters later, sophomore designated hitter Kyle Klee (Rochester, N.Y.) delivered a two-out single to center field to score James.
The Bearcats took a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning. Simek blasted a shot off the wall in left center to lead off. He was sacrificed to third by Klee and scored when a two-strike ground ball by freshman left fielder Joe Charron (Schaghticoke, N.Y.) was booted by Maine's shortstop.
Curt Smith added a two-run home run in the eighth inning to close out Maine's scoring.
Smucker and Simek each went 2-for-5 with two RBI and Dunn went 1-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored.
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