The Binghamton University baseball team, seen here after winning the America East championship, played two competitive games but lost to Ole Miss and N.C. State in the NCAA Regional.
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No. 23 Ole Miss snapped a 2-2 tie with two runs in the seventh inning and the SEC-member Rebels went on to beat Binghamton, 8-4, in an NCAA elimination game at the Raleigh Regional on June 1. The America East champion Bearcats (30-25), who played host and seventh-ranked N.C. State tight in an opening-round loss, concluded their third 30-win season in the last seven years.
After Binghamton tied the game against All-American pitcher Bobby Wahl (10-0) with a run in the bottom of the sixth, Ole Miss responded with two runs on three singles and a stolen base in the pivotal seventh. The Rebels, making their 18th NCAA appearance, then broke the game open with four runs in the eighth inning – the final two unearned after an infield error. Binghamton, which nearly matched their nationally ranked foe in hits (13-10), completed the scoring with two unearned runs in the eighth.
The loss overshadowed a gutsy performance from senior starter Jake Lambert (7-3), who went 6.1 innings and kept the Rebels off balance with eight strikeouts and no walks. After giving up two runs in the first frame, Lambert pitched five scoreless until running out of gas in the seventh.
Even after falling behind 4-2, Binghamton didn’t go away quietly, putting two runners on in the bottom of the seventh to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. Sophomore outfielder Zach Blanden continued his exceptional showing at the Regional with a one-out single. After a lineout to second, Thomas walked, sending up clean-up hitter Nevares, who flew out to center to end the threat.
But the wheels came off in the eighth as Ole Miss sent nine men to the plate and scored four runs on just two hits.
The Bearcats still kept grinding in the eighth inning, loading the bases with no out and scoring two unearned runs to tighten the score and bring the tying run to the on-deck circle. One of the team’s two hits in the inning came off the bat of Blanden, who finished off an incredible two-game regional with his fourth hit of the game and seventh of the tournament. The Bearcats brought seven men to the plate but stranded two with a called third strike to end their final threat.
The Rebels struck for two runs in the first inning, cashing in on three singles and a Lambert wild pitch. Lambert fanned two in the frame, including the final batter with a runner on base. The runs snapped a 23-inning streak spanning five starts when he didn’t allow an earned run.
Blanden took the first pitch he saw from Wahl, the ERA leader in the powerful SEC (1.99) and sent it past the bag at first for a leadoff single. But back-to-back fielder’s choice groundouts and an infield pop-up left one stranded in the first.
Lambert began to settle in after the first, and he got out of a two-on, no-out jam in the third with some exceptional pitching. With runners on second and third, Lambert got back-to-back strikeouts and a groundout to escape unscathed. Lambert struck out seven in the first four innings.
After stranding two runners in the second, Binghamton got on the board in the third. Blanden led off with a ground rule double just inside the right field line. Two batters later, leading hitter Jake Thomas came through with an RBI single to center, plating Blanden and cutting the Bearcats’ deficit in half, 2-1.
Thomas and sophomore catcher Nick Pancerella teamed up to end the Ole Miss fifth inning with a flare. The Rebels used a two-out single and stolen base to put a runner on second before Thomas charged to field the ensuing single to left and fired a bullet to the plate, where Pancerella applied the tag to keep the score at 2-1.
After Lambert set down the side in order in the sixth, Nevares opened the bottom of the frame with a sharp single through the left side on a 3-2 pitch. Junior Shaun McGraw dropped down a good sacrifice bunt and classmate Brian Ruby followed with a single to shallow center, putting runners on first and third. Senior DH Jordon Smucker hit a two-strike pitch to left center, scoring Nevares with the sacrifice fly and tying the game at 2-2.
On May 31, top-seeded and seventh-ranked NC State hit a pair of home runs and defeated Binghamton, 4-1, in the second game of the NCAA Raleigh Regional.
The hosts withstood a solid showing from the Bearcats, who strung together eight hits and came within a showcase diving catch of grabbing a lead midway through the game. Binghamton put its leadoff runner on base in six of the first seven innings and just lacked a few two-out hits. The Bearcats stranded seven in the first seven innings and had another baserunner thrown out trying to steal home. The Bearcats had eight of their first 21 batters reach base but had 12 of their final 14 retired to end the game.
Junior starter Jack Rogalla (5-5) went 6 2/3 innings and scattered eight hits and four runs. He struck out four and didn’t walk a batter before giving way to freshman Jake Cryts, who went the final 1 1/3.
“I’m very proud of our guys and the way we competed tonight against an outstanding North Carolina State ballclub that arguably could’ve been a national seed,” head coach Tim Sinicki said. “I thought our guys looked comfortable out there and we challenged them for the entire nine innings.”