(BASIL JOHN / THE STATESMAN)
The Stony Brook baseball team won against both Maine and Hartford, but was unable to defeat Binghamton, who won the America East Baseball Championship for the second year in a row. (BASIL JOHN / THE STATESMAN)

The Stony Brook baseball team set itself up in the drivers’ seat of the 2014 America East Baseball Championship by winning its first two matchups, defeating No. 4 Maine and No. 2 Hartford. All the team had to do was win one game against the fourth team in the tournament, the Binghamton Bearcats, and it would take home its second conference crown in three years.

Binghamton denied the Seawolves that opportunity and won its second straight title by defeating Stony Brook 4-3 on Saturday night and then 8-7 in the decisive seventh and final game of the tournament in 12 innings.

This is like déjà vu for a Stony Brook fan, as the softball team did the same exact thing two weeks earlier at home. The team won the first two games of its conference tournament before falling twice to the Albany Great Danes.

Stony Brook baseball started hot though, getting a good start out of starter Frankie Vanderka. He struck out seven Black Bear batters while scattering eight hits and only one run in his complete-game effort.

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It was Maine that started the scoring in the top of the first when the team got an RBI single from Scott Heath.

The Seawolves were quick to respond in the bottom of the first, as they got an RBI groundout from Kevin Krause, scoring Jack Parenty.

Stony Brook was able to take the lead for good in the bottom of the second. Casey Baker got a one-out double to deep center and would score on Anthony Italiano’s double down the left-field line, making it 2-1 Stony Brook.

Baker would get his second hit of the day on a RBI single to left, scoring Kevin Courtney to add insurance for the Seawolves, putting them up 3-1.

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They would get their fourth and final run in the bottom of the eighth, with Baker driving in Courtney again. This time, it was a RBI fielder’s choice to the shortstop.

The Seawolves then put themselves into the championship round with a 10-6 victory the next day against No. 2 Hartford.

Courtney led the way for the Seawolves, going 3-for-5 with three RBI’s and freshman Baker had another terrific day, going 2-for-4 with three RBI’s. Starter Brandon McNitt struck out ten Hawks batters in his 6.2 innings of work.

With the Seawolves up 2-1 going into the seventh inning, the bats started to come alive. Courtney drove in two with an RBI double, and then Baker added two more with an RBI single. Just like that, it was 6-1 Seawolves.

Hartford would try to make it a game again, adding two in the bottom of the seventh, but Stony Brook would put four more runs up in the top of the eighth, putting the game out of reach.

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It was Krause, the America East Player of the Year, making the big play of the inning, roping a line drive double down the left field line for two runs.

The Seawolves would then have to wait and see who they would face, as an elimination game between Hartford and Binghamton would decide the second participant in the championship round. The Bearcats jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the first and did not look back, taking the game 8-0.

Stony Brook entered the tournament as the No. 1 fielding team in the nation, but it was just that that hurt them in game one. Stony Brook committed three errors in the game, which showed with three of the four Binghamton runs coming unearned, with the late game relievers of Bryan Tatelman (came in the eighth) and Cameron Stone (came in the ninth) each allowing one unearned run apiece.

Baker got the scoring going in game one, as he singled and stole second in the bottom of the second. He would score on Italiano’s single, making it 1-0 Seawolves.

Binghamton would not answer until the fifth, when Bill Bereszniewicz beat out what would have been an inning-ending double play, allowing John Howell to score and tie the game.

The Bearcats would then take the lead in the seventh, when Zach Blanden beat out an infield single, allowing Howell to score and give his team a 2-1 lead.

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Stony Brook would answer in its half of the frame, when Krause doubled down the right field line, scoring Parenty and making it 2-2.

Binghamton would again take the lead in the top of the eighth, as Shaun McGraw’s sac fly was deep enough to score Daniel Nevares from third.

The Seawolves had another answer in their half of the eighth. This time, it was Joshua Mason and with two on and two out, he lined a single into center, scoring Baker and tying the game.

The Bearcats again would take the lead in the top of the ninth on Jake Thomas’ two-out single to center, scoring Blanden and giving them a 4-3 headed to the bottom of the ninth.

Stony Brook was not able to bring the game back.

Stony Brook had first and second with one out, but Baker hit a hard liner right to Howell, who then touched second to end the game and force a decisive game 7.

Binghamton is just the third team in America East history to force a decisive game 7 after losing their first game of the tournament.

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In the winner-take-all game, Binghamton and Stony Brook traded runs in the first. The Bearcats would jump on Stony Brook’s Vanderka, who was starting on short rest. With two outs in the inning, they were able to put three runs across on the senior starter, making it a 4-1 Binghamton lead.

Stony Brook would slowly chip away, though.

Reed Gamache mishandled an Italiano grounder which scored Baker, making it 4-2 in the fourth.

It was then made 4-3 in the fifth, when Krause laced a single to left, scoring Parenty.

Stony Brook completed the rally in the sixth, when Mason had his second game-tying single in as many games, this time scoring Johnny Caputo after he had doubled in the at-bat beforehand.

The top-seeded Seawolves were able to put three up in the seventh, giving them a 7-4 lead.

After the Bearcats got one back in their half of the seventh, the stage was set for Gamache in the bottom of the eighth. He roped a two-out, two-run single, his fifth hit of the game, tying it at seven.

After both teams went scoreless in the ninth, the championship game was headed to extra innings for the first time since 2005.

A scoreless 10th and 11th inning followed, and it was the in the 12th that the winning run was scored for Binghamton. The Bearcats loaded the bases with one out and, with the outfield playing shallow, Eddie Posavec sent a deep fly over the outfielders’ heads, scoring Gamache and giving the Bearcats their second straight title and third overall.

Binghamton and Stony Brook are no strangers to winning the America East title, winning six of the last seven championships.

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Hailing from Rochester, NY, Cameron is the Sports Editor. During his freshman year as a staff writer, he covered the Women's Soccer team, along with softball in the spring. His sophomore year saw bigger sports coverage, as he took on football and baseball. Cameron is a big sports fan, ranging from football to golf, and everything in between. Contact Cameron at: [email protected]

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