Baseball captures America East championship

ORONO, Maine – Second-seeded Binghamton baseball captured the program’s fifth America East crown and completed a dominating postseason tournament with a 7-1 win over fourth-seeded UMass Lowell in the championship game Saturday night at Mahaney Diamond. The victory capped a 3-0 tournament for the Bearcats, who will now head to the NCAA Regionals for the fourth time in nine years and fifth time overall. The 64-team NCAA field will be announced at noon Monday on ESPN2.

After the start time was delayed seven hours due to rain, the Bearcats continued their offensive assault on conference pitchers and received a stellar outing from junior Ryan Bryggman (7 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 7K). UMass Lowell needed to beat BU twice to win but instead the Bearcats racked up 12 hits and seven runs to ground the River Hawks for the second straight day. In the tournament’s three games, BU outscored opponents 35-11, compiled 46 hits and scored in 16 or 24 innings.

Tournament Most Outstanding Player Jake Evans went 2-for-3 with an RBI and made a huge defensive putout from the grass in left field to stifle a Lowell threat in the seventh inning. Evans went 6-for-10 with four RBI in the tournament and extended his school-record hit streak to 23 games. During the historic streak, which has spanned more than six weeks, Evans is hitting .482. He was joined on the all-tournament team by freshman catcher Evin Sullivan (3-for-4, 2 RBI), who went 6-for-11 with seven RBI in the three games, sophomore first baseman Andrew Tan (2-for-4, 2 RBI), who went 7-for-13 with five doubles and five RBI in the tournament, and Bryggman, whose huge performance in the clinching game was the finest of his career.

The teams traded runs early with BU getting one in the second on singles by Sullivan and Reilly and a two-out RBI single by Evans. UMass Lowell countered with a run in the third.

But BU broke the game open with three runs on four hits in the fourth inning. Sullivan and Reilly opened with singles and each moved up on a wild pitch. With one out, Tan delivered a two-run double down the left field line, making it 3-1. After Evans singled, junior right fielder Colin Mason worked a great at-bat before sending a 3-2 pitch to right field for sacrifice fly and a 4-1 lead.

In the sixth, Tan doubled with two out and after the River Hawks intentionally walked the red-hot Evans, Mason made them pay with an RBI single to right center which gave BU a 5-1 cushion.

The Bearcats padded their lead with two final runs in the seventh. Freshman center fielder Logan Haskell walked with one out, freshman second baseman Nick Roselli ripped a double inside the first base bag and Sullivan drove them both in with a two-run single up the middle.

Sophomore reliever Justin Rosner struck out three and didn’t allow a hit in two scoreless innings to close it out.

Every BU starter reached base at least once and there were numerous defensive gems as well. Haskell tracked down two deep shots in the left center in the middle innings. Haskell had a stellar series with five hits and five RBI. The Bearcats also cut down a runner at the plate in the third inning when junior left fielder Cavan Tully retrieved a base hit in the corner and relayed to Evans, who threw home to Sullivan for the tag out of what would’ve been a go-ahead UML run. Bryggman, meanwhile, matched the longest outing of his career and had the River Hawks off balance all game. His seven strikeouts equaled his season high and three of the four hits he were allowed were singles.

The America East title is BU’s fourth since 2013 – double that of any other team in the conference during that span. Previously, the Bearcats captured crowns in 2009, 2013, 2014 and 2016. The five overall conference titles is third most in America East history, behind only Delaware and Stony Brook.

The Bearcats did it with six underclassmen in the starting lineup, including four freshmen. They also had to overcome adversity at the tournament as late season injuries to all-conference first baseman Connor Aokic and no. 2 pitcher Gabe Driscoll kept those two out of action. Binghamton will enter the NCAA tournament having won five in a row and six of their last seven.

NOTE
In the postgame ceremony, junior pitching ace Jack Collinswho holds a 3.77 GPA as a biological science major, earned the conference’s Elite 18 award for having the highest grade-point average among student-athletes participating in the championship game.

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