Binghamton Beats Maine, 4-0, To Earn Second America East Championship Title
KINGSTON, R.I. – Senior Jake Lambert threw eight shutout innings on his way to being named Most Outstanding Player and leading the Binghamton Bearcats to their second America East Baseball Championship title in program history with a, 4-0, win over No. 1 seed Maine at the University of Rhode Island’s Bill Beck Field on Sunday afternoon.
Lambert, a second-team all-conference selection, was working on just three day’s rest after tossing a complete-game shutout Wednesday night against Albany in Binghamton’s opening game of the tournament. The senior surrendered just five hits to the Black Bears and allowed only two runners to reach scoring position while striking out seven. For the tournament, Lambert tossed 17 shutout innings, giving up seven hits and striking out 13.
It was the first time the America East Championship was forced into a winner-take-all final game since 2005, and Maine was trying to become the first team to come out of the loser’s bracket since the Black Bears did so as the top seed in 2002.
Connolly gutted out a six-inning outing for Maine, working on just one day of rest. He allowed three runs on eight hits while striking out two in six innings of work before giving way to the bullpen.
Joining Lambert on the all-tournament was Daniel Nevares, who drove in four runs while playing solid defense, along with David Schanz and Shaun McGraw (8-for-16 with 2 RBI). Connolly earned the distinction for Maine as well as starting pitcher Tommy Lawrence, who allowed just one run in 14.1 innings on the mound, and Eric White.
Binghamton, which won its only other conference title in 2009, led the tournament with a team batting average of .301 and recorded a 1.54 team ERA.
The Bearcats jumped on the top-seeded Black Bears in the first inning as Zach Blanden walked and came around to score from second on an infield single by Nevares that was fielded by shortstop Michael Fransoso deep behind second to make it 1-0.
Lambert was close to flawless through the first four innings, allowing only an infield single in the first before retiring a string of 10-straight batters.
The Bearcats tacked on another run in the third, as McGraw drove in Schanz from second with a two-out single through the left side of the infield. McGraw and Schanz were both 2-fo-5 on the day.
White broke up the string of 10-straight retired by Lambert, serving a two-strike single through the right side in the fifth. But Lambert bounced-back by striking out Scott Heath and then getting help in the infield as Schanz went to his knees to field a ball that started a 5-4-3 inning-ending double play.
Binghamton extended the lead to 3-0 in the sixth inning. After Connolly hit Brian Ruby and John Howell to start the frame, Nick Pancerella worked the slash play to perfection, faking a bunt and lacing a single to center that brought Ruby in from second. Connolly escaped further damage by striking out Schanz with runners on second and third to end the inning.
Maine threatened with two outs in the eighth as Colin Gay’s single put runners at first and second. But Lambert concluded his outing by getting Sam Balzano to ground back to the mound for the third time in the game.
Nevares earned his spot on the all-tournament team by adding another insurance run in the ninth inning for Binghamton, singling through the right side with two outs brought home Jake Thomas.
With Lambert out of the game to start the ninth, the Black Bears put the first two runners on after a pair of walks by Jake Cryts. Sophomore Mike Urbanski then entered the game and induced a pop up to short by Alex Calbick. White followed with an infield single to third, putting the tying run at the plate with two out. Urbanski closed the game by striking out Heath and getting Doran to fly out to center and earned his second save of the season.
Binghamton earns the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament which begins with regional play on Friday, May 31.
Austin Chase, Albany
Brandon McNitt, Stony Brook
Johnny Caputo, Stony Brook
Tommy Lawrence, Maine
Mike Connolly, Maine
Eric White, Maine
Daniel Nevares, Binghamton
David Schanz, Binghamton
Shaun McGraw, Binghamton
Jake Lambert, Binghamton
Most Outstanding Player
Jake Lambert, Binghamton