September 23, 2019

Bearcats’ win clinches top seed, rematch with Bears

ORONO – Gio Yannuzzi hasn’t pitched a lot this spring.

With the America East regular-season title on the line Monday afternoon, the junior lefthander gave Binghamton University a huge lift going into the conference tournament.

Yannuzzi scattered four hits and registered nine strikeouts as the Bearcats clinched the No. 1 seed for the America East Baseball Championship with a 3-1 victory over UMaine at chilly Mahaney Diamond.

“It’s big, the first time ever,” Yannuzzi said of the title. “This is nice, too, because it will add a little momentum going into the conference tournament.”

Coach Steve Trimper’s Black Bears (21-29, 12-11 AE) earned the fourth seed and face the same Binghamton squad (26-17, 17-5 AE) in Thursday’s 12:05 p.m. opener at Farmingdale State University in New York.

“We know that Thursday’s going to be an absolute battle,” Trimper said. “We’ve accomplished goal No. 1, which is getting into our conference tournament, and now goal No. 2 is winning this thing.”

Second-seeded and host Stony Brook plays No. 3 Albany in Thursday’s 7:05 p.m. contest in the four-team, double-elimination event.

By virtue of the Bearcats’ victory, America East canceled the second game of Monday’s scheduled doubleheader. Officials cited the fact the tourney seedings would not be affected and Binghamton’s lengthy bus ride back to New York.

“This is a game we really wanted to win to keep these guys [Binghamton] here,” Trimper admitted. “We wanted to play two games today.”

Yannuzzi (2-0) stole the show, mixing a fastball, a curve, and an occasional changeup while holding the Bears at bay. The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder was in command throughout.

“You really want to pick up the seniors in a game like this, give them something nice to go out on,” said Yannuzzi, who had worked only 15 2/3 innings this season, mostly in relief.

“I think the big thing for me today was first-pitch strikes,” he said. “That’s a little bit of velocity on my fastball that I haven’t seen in a long time.”

The Bearcats spotted Yannuzzi all the runs he would need in the fourth inning.

James Ryan, Brendon Hitchcock, Kyle Klee, and Jeff Monaco hit consecutive one-out singles off loser Jose Mendoza (1-6) to give the hosts a 2-0 lead.

Mendoza didn’t allow any other hits in his five innings and struck out three.

UMaine made it 2-1 in the fifth when Danny Menendez lined a 2-1 pitch for a home run to left field into a crosswind.

“That’s about the best I can hit it, so I was hoping it went out,” said Menendez, who reaffirmed the Bears’ psychological state going into the postseason.

“We feel pretty loose and we feel we have the experience over the other teams,” he said. “Going in we feel confident.”

Binghamton added an insurance run in the sixth on Jeff Monaco’s RBI infield single.

The Bears threatened in the seventh when Brewer’s Kevin McAvoy walked with one out, but he was erased on Mark Ostrander’s fielder’s choice. Brian Hackett of Bangor then lined a single to left but was tagged out in a rundown after trying to take second on the throw.

“They had a huge incentive to win this game,” said UMaine senior captain Matt McGraw. “To be honest, we didn’t have the same intensity they did. They definitely wanted it a little bit more than us.”

Hackett singled twice for UMaine, while Hitchcock and Monaco had two each for BU.


Binghamton (26-17) Maine (21-29)

Player AB R H BI Player AB R H BI

Smucker, dh 3 1 1 0 McGraw, lf 3 0 0

James, 3b 1 1 1 0 Cather, cf 3 0 0

Hitchcock, 1b 3 1 2 0 Smith, dh 2 0

Klee, ss 2 0 1 1 Barrett, 1b 3 0 0

Monaco, lf 3 0 2 2 Lugbauer, c 3 0 0

Papili, lf 3 0 0 0 McAvoy, 3b 2 0 0

Quinn, c 3 0 0 0 Ostrander, rf 3 0 0

Abrams, 2b 2 0 0 0 Hackett, ss 3 0 0

Dunn, cf 2 0 0 0 Menendez, 2b 2 1 1

Totals 22 3 7 3 Totals 24 1 4 1

Binghamton 000 201 0 – 3

Maine 000 010 0 – 1

E-Quinn (2); LOB-Binghamton 4; Maine 4; HR-Menendez (2); DP-Hackett (unassisted), Hackett-Menendez-Barrett, McGraw-Lugbauer; S-James 2; SB-Dunn (6); Cather (16)

Binghamton IP H R ER BB SO

Yannuzzi (W, 2-0) 7 4 1 1 2 9


Mendoza (L,1-6) 5 4 2 2 1 3

Carroll 2 3 1 1 1 1

HBP-Smucker (by Mendoza), Dunn (by Carroll); T-1:49; ATT-81

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