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Binghamton University Baseball falls in opening game of NCAA Tournament

STILLWATER, Okla. – Binghamton baseball put pressure on seventh-ranked Oklahoma State early in the game but couldn’t produce the big hit and the host Cowboys pulled away for an 8-0 win in BU’s opening game of the NCAA Regional Friday night at Reynolds Stadium. The game was broadcast on ESPN3.

Binghamton will now play No. 19 Nebraska in an elimination game at 1 p.m. (ET) on Saturday. OSU faces Cal State Fullerton in a winner’s bracket game at 8 p.m.

The fourth-seeded Bearcats put runners on base in five straight innings but left the bases loaded in the third and fifth innings and left nine stuck in the first six innings, including seven in scoring position.

Oklahoma State snapped a scoreless tie with two runs in the third inning. The Cowboys then added two runs in the fifth, two in the sixth and two in the eighth.

The Bearcats had their first big threat in the third inning. Senior shortstop John Howell led off with a single and with one out, junior right fielder Zach Blanden singled. After a strikeout, senior second baseman Daniel Nevares walked to load the bases before another OSU strikeout snuffed out the bases-loaded opportunity. In the bottom of the frame, the Cowboys used two hits, a walk and two wild pitches to forge ahead.

With BU down 2-0, freshman Nicholas Liegi entered with runners on second and third and closed the door with a big strikeout on a 3-2 pitch. Liegi, who relieved starter Jake Cryts (L, 5-6) with two outs in the third, stranded another in scoring position in the fourth and went 2.2 innings before giving way to junior Anthony Grillini, who pitched the final 2.2 innings.

Binghamton mounted another scoring threat with two outs in the fifth but came up one hit short. With two outs, senior center fielder Bill Bereszniewicz legged out an infield single, Nevares singled through the left side and junior left fielder Jake Thomas was hit-by-pitch to load the bases. That chased OSU starter Tyler Buffett but the Cowboys called on a reliever (Vince Wheeland) who was 9-0 with a 1.49 ERA. An ensuing dangerous slow grounder to third off the bat of senior Shaun McGraw was barehanded and the resulting bang-bang play at first just beat out McGraw to end the frame.

OSU used two hits, two walks and a sacrifice fly to plate two more runs in the home half of the fifth. The Cowboys then hit a leadoff home run and added an unearned run on two infield misplays in the sixth inning.

Binghamton was only sent down in order once in nine innings (1st inn.) and was outhit by a slight 10-8 margin.

Six different Bearcats had a hit in the game, including Blanden and Bereszniewicz, who each went 2-for-5. Five Oklahoma State pitchers compiled 13 strikeouts.

Binghamton did produce three spectacular fielding plays that warranted consideration for ESPN’s Sports Center Top 10 Plays. The first occurred in the opening inning when the senior tandem of Nevares and Howell turned its 69th career double play. With runners on first and second and one out, Nevares soared to snag a hard liner and then flipped to Howell at the bag to double off the OSU runner. One inning later with a runner at third, Thomas tracked a ball to the wall and leaped to deny a possible two-run home run. Bereszniewicz provided his own highlight-reel catch in the sixth when he covered a vast amount of grass and extended on a full dive to make a great catch in shallow right center.

NOTES
The game was delayed more than hour due to rain and then lightening in the area… it was the first time in six NCAA games that BU was held without a run.

(Courtesy: BU Athletics)

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