Binghamton University dominated the America East baseball conference during 2010. Now, the Bearcats will have the luxury of playing the league tournament on their home field.
By virtue of its 21-3 record in conference play, the defending America East champion (30-18) will host the America East Baseball Championship at Varsity Field in Vestal, N.Y.
Top-seeded Binghamton, which claimed its fourth consecutive regular-season crown, has earned the top seed for the four-team, double-elimination tournament which begins Wednesday and runs through Saturday. The winner earns America East’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The University of Maine is in the postseason for the first time since 2007 and has locked up the No. 2 seed. Coach Steve Trimper’s Black Bears (34-20 overall, 17-7 in conference play) face No. 3 Stony Brook (26-25, 15-9 AE) in Wednesday’s 11 a.m. tournament opener.
In a rematch of last year’s title game, Binghamton plays No. 4 Albany (11-38, 10-14 AE) in Wednesday’s 3 p.m. contest.
Wednesday’s losers play Thursday at 11 a.m., with the winners to square off at 3 p.m.
UMaine and Stony Brook split four games earlier this spring in Orono. On May 1, the Seawolves took the opener 7-3, then the Bears bounced back for a 10-9 victory.
On May 2, Stony Brook took the opener 5-4, then UMaine responded again with a 13-3 win.
The Bears also split four games at Binghamton back on April 17 and 18. UMaine took four of six from Albany during the regular season.
UMaine has won nine of its last 10 games and 15 of its last 19, and swept its regular-season ending doubleheader against Maryland-Baltimore County Saturday, winning game one 6-2 and the second game 5-3.
Maine reliever Justin Latta set the school record for appearances in a season with 30.
In the first game, Myckie Lugbauer pitched five strong innings, scattering one run on four hits while walking nobody and striking out two.
He was staked to a 4-0 lead in the top of the fourth thanks to Matt Howard’s three-run home run, and the Black Bears added two more runs in the seventh.
Latta pitched two innings of relief to record his fourth save.
In the fourth, Joe Mercurio and Joey Martin each walked and advanced up a Tyler Patzalek sacrifice. Justin Leisenheimer then singled to right to score Mercurio and Howard followed with a three-run homer to left.
UMBC scored in the bottom of the fifth when Casey Medairy homer to center.
The Bears scored two more runs in the seventh when Pat Thibodeau singled and eventually scored on back to back errors. Tony Patane then doubed to drive in Michael Fransoso, who had reached on an error.
In game two, six different Black Bear pitchers combined to allow three runs on nine hits, with Jimmy Cox of Bangor picking up his first win of the spring with a scoreless fifth.
He allowed just one hit.
Maine took control early with a run in the first and three more in the third, with Fransoso leading Maine’s hit parade with three singles and two RBIs. Patane collected two hits, including a double, and knocked in a run for the Black Bears.
Mercurio singled to drive in Maine’s run in the first inning while Fransoso had a two-run single in the third and Patane had an RBI double.
UMBC answered in the fourth with an run-scoring single by Bryan Russo.
The Bears added another run in the eighth when Taylor Lewis singled, stole second and scored on a Martin single through the right side.
UMBC put two more runs on the board in the eighth on RBI singles by Russo and Rich Conlon.