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Bearcats rally and win in extras

VESTAL, N.Y.Freshman third baseman David Schanz singled in the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning to give Binghamton baseball a 4-3 win over visiting Maine Saturday afternoon from the Bearcats Sports Complex. The win, coupled with an Albany loss, moved the Bearcats (25-19, 14-10 AE) into second place in the America East standings, just two games behind Maine (29-19, 16-8 AE). The teams will finish up their three-game set with a doubleheader Sunday beginning at noon.

In the 10th, junior center fielder Bill Bereszniewicz led off with a sharp single through the right side. Then after fouling off two bunt attempts, sophomore right fielder and lead-off hitter Zach Blanden instead ripped a single through the left side, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Maine was expecting a bunt and began an infield shift, which Schanz promptly spoiled by drilling the first offering into right center for an RBI single. The speedy Bereszniewicz came home from second with the winning run.

The Bearcats trailed 3-1 in the seventh inning before three straight two-out hits tied the score. Sophomore catcher Nick Pancerella began the rally with a single through the left side. Bereszniewicz followed with single to right field. Blanden delivered the big hit with a two-run double to the corner in left field. Junior second baseman Daniel Nevares nearly gave BU the lead when his first-pitch drive in the bottom of the eighth stalled at the wall in left field as the wind disappeared.

Sophomore Mike Urbanski (2-0) earned the win after entering in the top of the 10th and stranding Maines go-ahead runner on second. Urbanski came all the way back from a 3-0 count to strike out the Black Bears dangerous designated hitter and then got the final out of the frame on a line-out to Schanz at third. Urbanski came in for sophomore Greg Ostner, who pitched 3.2 strong innings of middle relief. Ostner entered the game on a moments notice after reliever Anthony Grillini left suddenly with an injury after facing just three batters in the sixth. He scattered three hits and a run and struck out three. Ostner pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and then worked out of a two-on jam in the ninth amid steady rain. With runners on first and second, he got the Black Bears cleanup hitter to ground out to first, preserving the tie.

The Black Bears accumulated nine hits in the first five innings and used single runs in the first and third innings to take a 2-0 lead. The Bearcats cut their deficit in half with a run in the fourth. Binghamton loaded the bases with one out and junior shortstop John Howell brought in sophomore left fielder Jake Thomas with an RBI groundout. Thomas had opened the inning with an infield single. Bearcats starter Jake Lambert escaped a dicey fifth inning when Maine loaded the bases with two infield singles and a walk. But Lambert induced a comebacker on a 3-2 pitch to strand three on base. He departed after allowing two runs in 5.0 innings.
Maine made it 3-1 with a one-out solo home run in the top of the seventh.

Blanden went 2-for-4 with two RBI, Schanz had two hits and the game-winning RBI and Thomas and Bereszniewicz had two hits apiece. Thomas reached base in three of four plate appearances to raise his league-leading on-base percentage to .513 - one of the top-5 marks in the nation.

The Black Bears, who lead the America East with a .299 team batting average, outhit BU 12-10 but stranded 11 runners. With the two runs in the seventh, BU knocked out Maine starter Tommy Lawrence, who was bidding for his ninth straight win.

Maine (16-8) still sits atop the America East standings, followed by Binghamton (14-10), Albany (14-11), Stony Brook (12-13) and Hartford (11-15). The top four teams at the end of next weekends play (final 3 games) advance to the conference tournament, held May 22-25 in Lowell, Mass. Binghamton would clinch a playoff spot with one more win or one more Hartford loss.

Sunday, May 12
Game 1 -  AJ Bazdanes, Maine (5-5, 3.31 ERA) vs. Jack Rogalla, Binghamton (4-3, 2.53 ERA)
Game 2 .  TBA, Maine vs. Jay Lynch, Binghamton (5-4, 2.48 ERA)


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