Things went from bad to worse for Maine’s baseball team at home on Saturday. In the first game of a doubleheader against Binghamton, the Black Bears allowed six scores in one inning, while in game two, Maine let Binghamton score eight runs in a row. After the Bearcats won the first game 6-1, the Black Bears handed the second match to Binghamton with a score of 8-1.
At the end of the weekend, Maine’s losing streak extends to five games, while their overall record plummets to 5-17, with a lowly 0-2 mark inside the America East conference. The Bearcats victory brings them to 6-14 on the year, with a 2-0 record in conference games. The Black Bears recognized after the contest that the team has faced a slump since their recent slate of games in Florida.
“Back in Florida where we had a couple rough games, we lost a couple of tight games that kind of got us into a mood where we needed to win. It started in Florida, but we should be getting out of it soon, I mean, we’ve got another game tomorrow, it’s a great opportunity to get back in the win column,” first-year infielder Danny Casals said.
Black Bears fall 6-1
In the first game, the Black Bears had high hopes of turning their season around. However, due to a complete collapse in the fifth inning which saw the Black Bears allow six runs, their hopes were quickly dashed. Maine fell to Binghamton decisively following the 6-1 beating. Maine entered the game knowing that they faced a tough challenge in Binghamton.
“I hate losing, that’s the worst thing ever, but there’s nothing you can do about it. You’re not going to win them all. If you go out there with the expectation that you’re going to win every day, that’s unrealistic,” Casals said.
Casals was one of Maine’s few impact performers in the first game. He went up to bat four times, scoring one home run along with an additional hit. For Binghamton, second-year infielder C.J. Krowiak went up to the plate five times, grabbing one scoring run and a team-leading three hits. The Bearcats were much more successful at batting, as they out hit the Black Bears 9-5.
When it came to pitching, second-year pitcher Jake Cryts shined for the Bearcats. While receiving the initial start, he pitched seven innings. In the process, he allowed only three hits without giving up any runs. He also accumulated seven strikeouts. For the Black Bears, second-year pitcher Jonah Normandeau started the first four innings, before being pulled in the fifth. During his play time, Normandeau allowed eight hits and six runs, while only forcing a single strikeout.
Each team remained scoreless through the first four innings. At the bottom of the fourth, fourth-year first baseman Brenden Geary hit a crucial double, putting himself and fourth-year catcher Kevin Stypulkowski in scoring position. Despite this golden opportunity, second-year infielder Caleb Kerbs had three strikes, ending the Black Bears chance to put any runs on the board.
Maine’s inability to score would haunt them as the Bearcats scored the game’s first six runs at the top of the fifth inning. Second-year infielder Paul Rufo hit a single, allowing second-year catcher Jason Agresti to bolt from third base into home. Moments later, Rufo scored himself when fourth-year infielder David Schanz managed to bunt the ball for a single. Third-year infielder Brendan Skidmore hit a single to the left side of the field, which allowed Schanz and Krowiak to score a pair of runs, while fourth-year infielder Reed Gamache snagged third base. The Black Bear’s nightmare continued when a wild pitch caused Gamache to score and Skidmore to steal third base, eventually giving Binghamton a 6-0 advantage.
Needing a drastic change of scenery, the Black Bears pulled Normandeau off the mound and replaced him with fourth-year pitcher Jake Marks. Marks played well, tallying a strikeout while allowing no hits and no runs during his three innings on the mound.
The Black Bears wouldn’t allow themselves to be shutout, as Casals got them on the board in the bottom of the eighth inning. Facing second-year pitcher Dylan Stock, who came in to replace the extremely effective Cryts, Casals homered. The hit marked Casals’ second home run of the year. The score brought the game to 6-1 in favor of Binghamton. As neither team managed to produce in the final inning, the Bearcats managed to hold on to win the game. Immediately after the loss, the Black Bears knew that they had to dust off the game and move forward.
“If you take every loss to heart, you’re going to be struggling. You’re going to be up and down, and you don’t want to be like that,” Casals said. “We always talk about being even keel. We don’t want to be a roller coaster going up and down.”
Binghamton completes doubleheader sweep
In the second game of their doubleheader, Maine let Binghamton score eight consecutive runs before the Black Bears finally found a way onto the scoreboard. With three home runs, the Bearcats easily beat the Black Bears 8-1.
Though he only went up to bat twice, Stypulkowski managed to score the Black Bears’ only run, along with a pair of hits. Casals and Geary were the only other Black Bears to tally any hits, with each getting one. For Binghamton, third-year outfielder Darian Herncane went up to bat twice, where he hit a home run and scored a team-leading two runs.
When it came to pitching, Binghamton’s fourth-year pitcher Mike Bunal. He accumulated 10 strikeouts while allowing four hits and only one run. For Maine, second-year pitcher Justin Courtney saw the majority of the game on the mound. He had a rough night, allowing 10 hits, six runs, two of which were home runs and he only forced one strikeout. Maine’s recent falter in performance with pitches served as one of their biggest weaknesses in the game.
“Binghamton did a great job of hitting our poorly executed pitches today. We have to execute the pitches better and we have to find a way to get out of our slump anyways,” Head Coach Steve Trimper said.
After each team remained scoreless for two innings, the Bearcats got on the board at the top of the third. While all the bases were empty, Herncane hit his fourth home run of the season, putting Binghamton up 1-0.
For the second game in a row, Maine struggled mightily in the top of the fifth inning. Fourth-year infielder Reed Gamache hit a single towards the left side of the field, allowing Herncane to score again. Moments later, third-year infielder Brendan Skidmore hit a home run, allowing himself and Gamache to both tally a run, raising Binghamton’s lead to 4-0.
At the top of the sixth inning, second-year infielder C.J. Krowiak hit a single to the right edge of the diamond as second-year infielder Paul Rufo ran in. Moments later, second-year outfielder Chris McGee scored the second run of the inning, bringing the Bearcats’ advantage to 6-0.
Binghamton again scored a pair of runs in the seventh inning. When Maine’s fourth-year pitcher Charlie Butler came in to replace Courtney, Agresti took advantage of the new pitcher. Agresti sailed the ball over the fence, allowing himself and third-year center Eddie Posavec to score. With one last chance to prove their worth, the Black Bears managed to avoid a shutout at the bottom of the seventh. This came when Stypulkowski hit his first home run of the season. Despite the score, the Black Bears couldn’t climb out of the hole, as the game ended 8-1 in favor of the Bearcats. Though holding a 5-17 record, Maine believes that this team will right the ship soon.
“It’s just a matter of time; we’ve got a great group of guys,” Casals said. “We’re a pretty good team all around. I mean, I would take all our nine starters over any team we’ve played, even Clemson, all those tough teams we’ve played.”
Black Bears fall 2-0 in 12 innings
It took 12 innings to decide the last of a three game series between conference foes Binghamton and Maine on Sunday, but in the end, the Bearcats’ baseball team left victorious after scoring a pair of runs at the top of the 12th inning. Maine’s sixth consecutive loss came in the form of a 2-0 shutout.
After being swept by Binghamton, Maine finishes the weekend with a 5-18 overall record, with a 0-3 mark within the America East. Binghamton rises up to 7-14 on the season, while holding a 3-0 mark inside of conference play.
Second-year pitcher Jacob Wloczewski got the start on the mound for Binghamton. He played seven innings, while allowing two hits and forcing one strikeout. In desperate need of quality play from the mound, the Black Bears turned to fourth-year pitcher Logan Fullmer. Despite being a usual closer, Fullmer excelled in the new role, starting nine innings, while allowing three hits and forcing 10 strikeouts, the most of his career. His presence helped the Black Bears eliminate one of their major problems, but their inability to get hits was still present.
“I wasn’t too bad; I thought I pitched pretty well,” Fullmer said. “The team played really well, we just didn’t get the timely hits at the right time.”
Posavec and first-year outfielder Daniel Franchi scored the only two runs in the game for Binghamton. For Maine, Kerbs was an impact performer as he led the Black Bears with two hits during his four trips up to bat. At the end of the day, Maine out hit Binghamton 5-3, bit it wasn’t enough to save the Black Bears.
After two scoreless innings, the Black Bears had a chance to take the lead in the bottom of the third. Kerbs started by hitting a double towards the end of the field. First-year infielder Jeremy Pena then bunted the ball, getting himself out, but allowing Kerbs to steal third. Despite this opportunity, first-year outfielder Colin Ridley got the third out of the inning, which ended any hope of Kerbs making it to home plate.
For the remainder of the scheduled nine innings, neither team managed to get any runners past second base as the 0-0 tie continued. At the bottom of the eighth, fourth-year pitcher Rob Hardy came in for Binghamton. He would proceed to see five innings of action, allowing five hits and forcing three strikeouts.
At the top of the 12th inning, the scoring drought finally ended. Posavec managed to run to second following a throwing error. Moments later, Agresti bunted the ball, allowing Posavec to make it to third base, putting the Bearcats in their best position to score all day. With a second bunt from Franchi, Posavec made it to home plate. A few plays later, Franchi managed to score a run, giving Binghamton the 2-0 advantage. At the bottom of the inning, the Black Bears failed to resurrect their offense, as they let the Bearcats win 2-0. Despite the loss, the team knows that the wins are somewhere over the horizon.
“It’s going to come, you know, we’re just in a really bad funk,” Trimper said. “The one thing we can’t lose is our hustle, which is what I thought we did yesterday, we can’t let our emotions down, we have got to play the game and have fun.”
Maine will get a shot at redemption when they travel to conference rival Stony Brook to take on the Seawolves for a three game series beginning on Saturday April 2 at 1 p.m.