ORONO, Maine — Nobody likes to be pulled for a pinch-hitter. It can be humiliating and hurt a player’s confidence.
But Binghamton freshman first baseman Kevin Gsell, who was lifted for a pinch-hitter in Friday’s second game, didn’t let it impact him. He drilled his first three doubles of the season and drove in four runs on Saturday to lead the Bearcats to a 7-2 victory over the University of Maine in the teams’ regular-season finale at Mahaney Diamond.
Binghamton (23-22, 12-9 AE), which hosts the six-team, double-elimination America East tournament beginning Wednesday, wound up as the No. 3 seed.
UMaine (15-32, 11-12 AE) wound up as the fifth seed and faces No. 4 UMass Lowell (19-34, 12-12 AE) at 11 a.m. in Wednesday’s opening round. The Black Bears won all three meetings with the River Hawks this season.
Binghamton plays No. 6 Hartford (20-32, 11-13 AE) at in Wednesday’s 2:30 p.m. contest in Vestal, New York.
On Saturday, former College World Series Most Outstanding Player Joe Ferris became the sixth member of the UMaine Wall of Legends and had his No. 29 retired in pregame ceremonies.
It didn’t take Gsell and the Bearcats long after Ferris’ speech to rough up UMaine sophomore righty Peter Kemble as they scored four first-inning runs to take a lead they would never relinquish.
Following back-to-back singles by Daniel Franchi and Shane Marshall and a strange fielder’s choice on a fly ball to shallow center field, Sam Freedman roped a two-run double into right-center field.
Freedman had pinch-hit for Gsell in the second game of Friday’s doubleheader and got an important hit that helped set up the winning run.
Anthony Meduri reached on UMaine shortstop Jeffrey Omohundro’s fielding error and Gsell rifled a two-run double down the left-field line.
Caleb Kerbs’ sacrifice fly got one back for UMaine in the bottom of the second but Gsell stroked another two-run double to left in the third to make it 6-1.
“It was nice to get back on track today after a bad day at the plate yesterday,” said Gsell, who went 0-for-5 Friday and saw his average drop to .179.
“I just wanted to help the team out. I was a little more aggressive today. I got my pitch and didn’t wait around too much,” Gsell added.
Kemble (3-7) allowed seven hits and six runs, four earned, in 2 1/3 innings of work.
“I didn’t pitch well,” he said. “I made some mistakes and they punished me for them.”
Binghamton freshman lefty Thomas Babalis (4-1) turned in a gem, allowing just three hits and two runs, one earned, over seven innings with three strikeouts and two walks.
“I had good command of my fastball and my changeup was good, too,” Babalis said. “It’s easy to pitch with a lead because you don’t have to worry about being too fine with your pitches.”
Sophomore righty Josh Kopcza allowed two hits and no runs over the final two innings.
UMaine’s Dillon Stimpson, Matt Geoffrion, Nick Sinacola, Bobby Cliche and Jacob Small combined to throw 6 2/3 innings of three-hit, one-run relief and the only run was unearned.
The Bearcats put an exclamation point on the win with three nice defensive plays in the ninth by second baseman Alex Baratta, left fielder Franchi and third baseman Justin Drpich.
Binghamton committed just one error to UMaine’s four.
Freedman complemented Gsell’s three-hit game with a double and a single and Marshall singled twice.
Freshman center fielder Mike Sabatine had an RBI single for UMaine and went 5-for-10 in the series. Junior right fielder Hernen Sardinas had a single and is 9-for-18 in the last four games (9-18, .500). He has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 at a .365 clip (19-for-52).
Freshman catcher Ryan Turenne joined Sardinas and Sabatine as the only other Black Bear to collect at least one hit in all three games as he had a single.
“Mike Sabatine was a major bright spot this weekend,” said UMaine coach Nick Derba. “We didn’t play well. We were terrible today.”