Bearcats swept by Vermont on first day of weekend series

Vermont 6, Binghamton 2
Vermont 6, Binghamton 5

VESTAL, N.Y.--The Catamounts (26-10, 11-3 AE) jumped out to early leads in both games and then held off late Binghamton (10-34-1, 2-14 AE) rallies to earn a doubleheader sweep in America East Conference action Saturday afternoon at West Gym Field. Vermont won the first game 6-2 and took the second game 6-5.

In the opener, the Catamounts jumped out to a 3-0 lead on just one hit in the first inning. After an error, walk and passed ball gave Vermont runners at second and third with two outs, freshman outfielder Kyle Brault (Milton, Vt.) connected for a three-run home run. In the fourth inning, freshman infielder Jay Iannoni (Foxboro, Mass./Xaverian Brothers) led off with a home run and sophomore shortstop Bobby Tewksbary (Hudson, N.H./Alvirne) produced an RBI single.

Trailing 6-0 heading to the bottom of the seventh inning, Binghamton scored a pair of runs when sophomore catcher Chris Darling (Whitesboro, N.Y.) walked with the bases loaded and senior designated hitter Kyle Loucks (Johnson City, N.Y.) scored on a double play.

Senior pitcher Jamie Merchant (Colchester, Vt./Rice Memorial) kept the Bearcats offense at bay through the first six innings and recorded his sixth win of the season. Merchant went all seven innings, allowing seven hits while striking out six and walking just two. Bearcats starter J.D. Brink (Matamoras, Pa./Cecil CC) also went the distance, allowing eight hits and just two earned runs.

In the second game, Vermont built leads of 4-1 and 6-3 before securing the win with the tying run at second base in the seventh inning. Tewksbary scored on a fielder's choice in the first inning and the Catamounts added three runs in the top of the fifth. Junior first baseman Barry Chamberland (Bellows Falls, Vt.) drove in two runs with a two-out single up the middle and sophomore outfielder Jason Carey (Colchester, Vt.) followed with an RBI double.

The Bearcats kept the game close, as junior outfielder T.J. Kowalchuk (Stormville, N.Y./Carmel) homered in the bottom of the second inning and junior outfielder Joe Costello (Ventnor, N.J./Cumberland CC) smacked a two-run shot in the fifth inning.

Vermont added a pair of insurance runs in the sixth and seventh innings, getting solo home runs from Iannoni and Tewksbary.

In the bottom of the seventh, senior outfielder Tony Berube (Vestal, N.Y.) led off with an infield hit and freshman shortstop Justin Smucker (Bird-in-Hand, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) followed with a double to left-center. One out later Costello doubled off the center field fence to close the margin to 6-5, but Vermont closer Justin Bissonnette (Colchester, Vt.) then shut the door with a pair of fly balls to record his second save.

Starting pitcher Brian Robinson (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) went the first 5 1/3 innings for the Catamounts, scattering seven hits and three earned runs. Freshman Chris Shores (Towanda, Pa./Athens) made his first career start for Binghamton, and allowed just two hits and two earned runs in 4 1/3 innings.

Costello wound up going 4-for-4 in the second game, driving in all but one of Binghamton's runs. Smucker was 3-for-6 on the day and Kowalchuk was 3-for-5.

The teams will meet for another doubleheader on Sunday. Game time has been changed to 11 a.m. due to the chance of rain in the forecast. It will be Senior Day at West Gym Field, as the Bearcats will honor their six seniors in a ceremony prior to the beginning of the first game.

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