Bearcats fall in conference tourney opener
5/22/2014 (Updated 5/23/2014 5:51:00 PM)LOWELL, MASS -- The Binghamton baseball team fell to Hartford 6-1 in its opening game of the 2014 America East Championship, Thursday night at LeLacheur Park. The Bearcats’ (21-25) bats were silenced by Hartford ace Sean Newcomb, who limited the defending champions to just two hits after multiple rain delays pushed back the original start time of 6 p.m. to almost 9 p.m. Binghamton falls to the losers bracket where they will face Maine at 2 p.m. Friday afternoon.
Binghamton and Hartford (31-21) met for the first-time ever in the America East Championship as the Hawks were making just their fourth appearance all-time and first since 1996. The Bearcats in contrast are playing in their eighth straight conference tournament, the league’s second longest streak (Stony Brook, 9).
The Bearcats got off to a slow start as Newcomb cruised through the first three innings striking out eight of the first 10 batters he faced. The America East Pitcher of the Year and projected first-round draft pick in June finished with a career-high 14 strike outs and was said to have reached triple digits on the guns of the dozen Major League scouts in attendance.
Hartford struck first in the bottom of the third plating four runs on three consecutive two-out RBI singles. After a walk by Binghamton starting pitcher Jack Rogalla and a double by Hartford’s Adam Touhey, the Hawks were threatening with runners on first and third with one out. Following a nice play to home by third baseman David Schanz the Hawks strung together three straight hits to supply Newcomb with more than enough support.
Binghamton made the most noise in the next half inning as senior centerfielder Bill Bereszniewicz recorded the Bearcats’ first hit on a beautiful bunt single in between the pitcher and first baseman. Senior Daniel Nevares then walked and junior Jake Thomas reached on an error to load the bases with no outs. However, Newcomb struck out the next two Binghamton batters to calm the surge. Schanz drew a walk to score Bereszniewicz and the Bearcats’ lone run of the night. Senior shortstop John Howell seemed to a draw a walk as well and cut the Hartford lead to two, but was called out looking to end Binghamton’s best chance of the night.
Hartford tacked on runs in the fourth and fifth ending Rogalla’s night after 4.0 innings pitched. The Binghamton ace surrendered all six runs on eight hits with a pair of strike outs.
Binghamton, who has been hampered by injuries all season, used three different pitchers out of its depleted bullpen. The trio of Greg Ostner, Tsuyoshi Horibata and Anthony Grillini pitched the final four innings combining for eight strike outs, five coming from Ostner, who pitched two strong innings.
Bereszniewicz went 1-for-4 with a run scored, while freshman catch Eddie Posavec and senior first basemen Shaun McGraw each went 1-for-3. Posavec recorded the hardest hit ball against Newcomb as he drilled a two-out pitch to left-centerfield in the seventh inning. Posavec was the only Binghamton batter Newcomb did not strike out as the Bearcats left seven runners on base.
Binghamton is 12-14 all-time in the America East Championship and will need to beat Maine to keep its hopes of back-to-back titles alive. The Bearcats are 5-3 against Maine in the conference tournament including a pair of wins last year en route to their second conference championship.
(Courtersy: BU Athletics)
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