STONY BROOK, N.Y. -- Top-seeded Stony Brook won its second game in as many days to advance to Friday afternoon's championship game at the 2012 America East Baseball Championship at Joe Nathan Field. Fourth-seeded University of Maine also won on day two of the tournament Thursday with an 8-3 victory over Albany in an elimination game.
The Black Bears will now play third-seeded Binghamton Friday at 11 a.m. for the chance to challenge the Seawolves for the title. Coming out of the loser's bracket, Maine or Binghamton will need to win three straight games, including two against Stony Brook, in order to claim the conference crown.
In the day's first game, Maine (27-27) eliminated Albany (22-32-1) from the tournament. Nearly all of the scoring came in the opening frame as the Great Danes put three up on the board in the top half of the first, and the Black Bears countered with seven runs in the home half. Maine tacked on an additional run in the seventh for a little extra breathing room.
Maine designated hitter Fran Whitten launched his second home run of the tournament over the right field fence in the first inning for a grand slam and his fourth, fifth, six and seventh RBI over the last two days. Whitten finished the day 2-for-4, as did shortstop Michael Fransoso who also scored two runs. Maine's leadoff batter Troy Black went 3-for-5 with a run scored.
Albany DH Mike Tirri drove in the first run of the day with a double to left field before first baseman Josh Nethaway lined a two RBI single up the middle to account for the Danes' three scores. Tirri and D.J. Hoagboon both finished 2-for-4 with a run for Albany, which snapped its streak of three straight championship game appearances.
Black Bear starter Steve Perakslis improved to 5-5 on the season, settling in to pitch 7.0 innings after the rocky start, limiting Albany to just three hits over his final six innings. Battling the flu earlier in the week, Perakslis struck out five, walked three and surrendered three runs, all earned. D.J. Voisine started the eighth inning and allowed just one hit and one walk with two strikeouts over the final two frames.
Albany starter Sean Lucas also settled down after the first inning, pitching three 1-2-3 innings before lefty Ryan White replaced him with one out in the seventh inning. Maine tagged Lucas with all eight runs, seven earned, and nine hits. White threw the final 1.2 innings allowing just one hit and striking out two.
In the winners' bracket game, the Seawolves (45-11) dealt the Bearcats (23-25) a 7-3 loss. With the win, Stony Brook notched its 45th win of the season, the highest single-season win total for an America East team since former member Delaware won 45 in 2001. Maine holds the conference record with 48 victories during the 1991 campaign.
For the second straight day, Stony Brook received a strong effort from its starting pitcher sophomore Brandon McNitt (8-2). McNitt went 6.0 innings giving up two earned runs and seven hits, walking one and striking out three.
America East Player of the Year Travis Jankowski went 2-for-5 for the Seawolves with two runs and an RBI. Cleanup hitter Maxx Tissenbaum went 1-for-2 with two sacrifice hits including an RBI sac fly in the third inning.
The game was close for the first six innings with the Seawolves getting single runs in the second, third and sixth innings and the Bearcats notching runs in the fourth and sixth. Binghamton starter Jake Lambert went the first six innings limiting the Seawolves to just five hits.
Bearcat reliever Jack Rogalla entered in the seventh inning, faced eight batters and gave up four runs, only one of which was earned, as Stony Brook capitalized on two Binghamton throwing errors. Alex Adami threw the eighth and ninth innings for the Bearcats without allowing a hit or a run, but the damage was already done as stony Brook opened a 7-2 lead that was just too large for the Bearcats to overcome despite adding two runs over the
final two innings.
Binghamton catcher Mike Danaher drove in three of his teams' four runs, going 2-for-4. Dave Ciocchi, Daniel Nevares and Jake Thomas all also finished with multi-hit games for the Bearcats.
The Seawolves are trying to become just the second two seed in the last 10 years, and first since Binghamton in 2009, to win the tournament and the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. Follow Friday's action on Championship Central with live coverage links, recaps, highlights and more.
2012 America East Baseball Championship
All games hosted by Stony Brook University, Joe Nathan Field
Wednesday, May 23
Game 1: #3 Binghamton 2, #2 Albany 1 l Box score l
Game 2: #1 Stony Brook 14, #4 Maine 6 l Box score l
Thursday, May 24
Game 3: Maine 8, Albany 3 (Albany eliminated l Box score l
Game 4: Stony Brook 7, Binghamton 4 l Box score l
Friday, May 25
Game 5: Maine (h) vs. Binghamton (elimination game), 11 a.m.
Game 6: Winner of Game 5 vs. Stony Brook (championship game), 3 p.m.
Saturday, May 26
Game 7: Winner of Game 6 vs. Stony Brook (championship game, if necessary), noon