For the fifth time in program history and the fourth time in the past nine years, the Binghamton Bearcats (22-28) have captured the America East baseball championship. With the title comes an automatic bid to the NCAA Division 1 tournament also known as the “Road to Omaha.” Because the Bearcats finished with an under .500 record, they were slotted as a #4 seed and will be heading west to the Stanford Regional. The Bearcats will face the nation’s #2 overall seed the Stanford Cardinal (41-14) at 4 PM EST on Friday. The other two teams that make up this regional are Texas State (45-12) out of the Sun Belt Conference and UC Santa Barbara (43-12) from the Big West Conference. Those two teams will meet on Friday night.
Last weekend in Orono, Maine Binghamton may have played their best baseball of the season. They picked the right time to do it. The Bearcats went 3-0 in the America East tournament and outscored their opponents by a 35-11 count. The team had to overcome injuries to key players like Connor Aoki, their first baseman, and number two starter Gabe Driscoll. They still managed to win five in a row and six of their last seven games. Binghamton did it with youth as conference rookie of the year, Evin Sullivan went 6-for-11 with seven RBIs in the three games. The catcher also did an outstanding job with a pitching staff that was missing a key part. Sophomore Andrew Tan stepped in for Aoki at first base and went 7-for-13 with five runs batted in. RHP Ryan Bryggman came up big for his team by going seven innings of one-run, four-hit baseball in the championship game. He also struck out seven in that outing. The veteran of the team, senior shortstop Jake Evans will take a 23-game hitting streak with him to the regional. He was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. He went 6-for-10 with four RBI. During the hitting streak, Evans is batting .482. Evans, Sullivan, and Bryggman were all named to the America East All-Tournament team.
The assignment for the Bearcats will not be easy. They will play at least two games against ranked teams this weekend. The Stanford Cardinal are the #2 ranked team by Collegiate Baseball Top-25. They are also the Pac-12 champions from last weekend. For the first time in program history, they have been given a national seed. They will bring a 16-game winning streak into the game with Binghamton. This is the 20th time that the Cardinal has hosted a regional. Stanford is used to playing baseball in June as this will be their 36th appearance in the postseason and they have an overall record of 153-82 (.651). At Sunken Diamond, their home ballpark, they are 72-20 (.783). The winning streak is their longest since 1998 when they won 18 in a row. The left side of the Cardinal infield can get it done with both the bat and glove. Sophomore Drew Bowser hit .444 (8-for-18 with four home runs, two doubles, eight RBI, and six runs scored. Junior Adian Crampton batted .467 7-for-15 with a double, three RBI, and two runs scored. Both players were named to the All-Tournament team after flashing some leather to go along with productive at-bats. As a team, Stanford bats .302. On the mound, their team ERA is 3.82.
There is no question this will be a difficult task for the Bearcats. The other two teams in this regional are also ranked teams. Texas State is #11, and UC Santa Barbara is #4. Binghamton will head to Stanford with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Here’s hoping a good weekend is ahead for the Binghamton Bearcats.
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