Sunday, May 24, 2009

UAlbany Upended By Foe In America East Baseball Championship Marathon

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information

Endicott, N.Y. – Left-hander Jeff Dennis threw seven strong innings and struck out nine in leading Binghamton to a 16-6 victory UAlbany in the championship round of America East Conference Baseball Tournament at Pete Sylvester Field. The Bearcats, who won all three games in tournament play, captured their first conference title and earned an automatic NCAA berth.

The America East championship final started at 9:45 p.m. on Saturday evening, went through two delays, and finished up at 3:06 a.m. eastern on Sunday morning. From first to last pitch, the marathon lasted five hours and 21 minutes.

Binghamton (29-20) leaped to a 3-0 lead in the second inning after the game was delayed for nearly two hours due to weather. With two outs and runners on first and second, Jeff Abrams beat out a single into the hole. But UAlbany shortstop Sean Donovan’s throw was wide of first, allowing Corey Taylor to score. Donovan misplayed a ground ball up the middle for the second run. Jim Calderon picked up an RBI when he singled off the glove of pitcher Ryan White and the ball ricocheted into left field.

The Bearcats, who won the conference regular-season crown to earn the top seed, sent 10 batters to the plate in the fourth. C.J. Lukaszewski and Kyle Klee drove in runs with infield singles to ignite a six-run inning. Corey Taylor, a first-team all-conference outfielder, put an exclamation point on the at-bat when he slugged a three-run homer over the left-field fence, his 15th of the season.

In the sixth, Binghamton extended its margin to 12-0. Jeff Skelhorne-Gross led off with a double and scored on Calderon’s sacrifice fly to left. Calderon, who also doubled, totaled three hits and two RBIs. Henry Dunn followed with a two-run triple that sliced into the alley in right-center field.

The Great Danes, who reached the championship for the second time in the program’s history with a 10-9 win over Vermont in the loser’s bracket final, broke through in the fifth when Gary Pitcheralle lofted a sacrifice fly to left. Pinch-hitter Jim Banks singled and scored in a two-run seventh. Dave West and Pete Eichner each singled in the eighth and later came around to cross the plate. West had three hits, including a double, and made a spectacular diving catch in the ninth.

Dennis, who improved to 5-5 on the mound, allowed just four hits and one earned run in earning all-championship recognition. Calderon, who accounted for eight base hits in tourney play, was voted the most outstanding player.

UAlbany (26-31-1) placed three players on the America East all-championship team. Catcher Ryan Gugel, who had a career-high four hits against Vermont, pitcher Dave Kubiak, a winner in a first-round victory over Stony Brook, and West.

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