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Bearcats sweep Maryland 8-6 and 4-2

Binghamton 8, Maryland 6
Binghamton 4, Maryland 2

NORFOLK, Va.--Binghamton (3-2) notched the highest profile sweep in program history on Saturday, defeating the University of Maryland (1-4) 8-6 and 4-2 in a Saturday doubleheader. The Terrapins hail from the Atlantic Coast Conference, which was ranked by Baseball America as the nation's strongest conference. The pair of wins were the Bearcats' first-ever over a team from the ACC.

In game 1, Binghamton scored all eight of its runs in the first four innings, building an 8-2 lead before hanging on for the win. After scoring single unearned runs in each of the first two innings, the Bearcats exploded for four runs on just two hits in the third stanza. Junior third basebam Jay Balback (Milsboro, Del.) was hit by a pitch leading off the inning, and outfielder Joe Costello (Ventnor, N.J.) followed with a walk. Junior outfielder T.J. Kowalchuk (Stormville, N.Y.) then doubled home Balback, and senior catcher Kyle Loucks (Johnson City, N.Y.) scored Costello with a groundout. One out later, senior first baseman Jake Thiel (San Bruno, Calif.) homered to left field, giving BU a 6-0 lead.

Maryland got on the board with two runs in the bottom half of the third, but a two-out homer by Costello in the fourth inning gave BU an 8-2 lead. The Terrapins scored two runs in the fifth and sixth innings, but could not come all the way back. Junior pitcher JD Brink (Matamoras, Pa.) pitched the first 4 1/3 innings for his first win as a Bearcat.

Pitching took over in game 2, as junior Mark Messina (Hamburg, N.Y.) allowed just one earned run over 6 1/3 innings before sophomore Johnmin Hickey (Reno, Nev.) shut the door with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief for his first career save. Messina allowed only four hits, struck out four, and retired 16 of the final 21 batters he faced. Hickey entered the game with Binghamton leading 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh, but with Maryland runners at first and second and one out. After walking the first batter he faced to load the bases, Hickey induced a groundball to get a force play at the plate, then recorded a strikeout to end the threat. The game, which had been scheduled to go nine innings, was called after eight innings due to darkness.

The Terrapins led 2-1 after two innings, but the Bearcats got all the runs they would need in the top of the third. With one out, senior outfielder Tony Berube (Vestal, N.Y.) reached on an error and Balback walked. Costello then scored both runners with a double into the right-center field gap.

Kowalchuk singled home Berube with an insurance run in the top of the eighth inning. Kowalchuk was 4-for-8 in the doubleheader and leads Binghamton with a .444 batting average and eight runs batted in.

The two teams will meet at 9 a.m. Sunday for a single, nine-inning game. Due to a snow storm in College Park, Md., the weekend series is being played in Norfolk, Virginia on the campus of Virginia Wesleyan College.
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