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Bearcats win America East, NCAA baseball game

Binghamton proved to be no pushover on the national baseball stage.

The Bearcats, in their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division I tournament, beat George Mason before being eliminated by top-seeded East Carolina in a regional held in Greenville, N.C.

Binghamton is the first America East team to win an NCAA game in four years and just the third America East team in 14 years to get a victory.

“It was a wonderful experience for us,” head coach Tim Sinicki said of his team’s first NCAA regional appearance. “Our team competed very hard, as we’ve done all season long. … Our guys all gave it everything they had and I’m proud of each one of them. East Carolina ran a first-class regional and we hope this is the first of many trips to the NCAAs for our program.”

The Bearcats earned an NCAA berth by winning the America East tournament in Endicott. Binghamton defeated Albany, 16-6, in a game that started late, was delayed by lightning and did not end until after 3 a.m. May 24. Jeff Dennis struck out nine and gave up one earned run in seven innings, while outfielder Corey Taylor homered and second baseman Jim Calderone went 3-for-5 with 3 RBI.

Joining Binghamton in the double-elimination Greenville regional were three nationally ranked teams: East Carolina, South Carolina and George Mason. In the May 30 opener delayed a day by the weather, the Bearcats got two home runs from Joe Charron but could not overcome an early deficit in an 11-7 loss to East Carolina.

Later that day, the Bearcats eliminated George Mason, 11-6, behind home runs from Taylor and outfielder Henry Dunn. Dennis got the win and closer Greg Lane picked up the save.

“We answered the bell and scored a big win for our program,” Sinicki said. “To come back after very little sleep and play back-to-back nine-inning games ... I wasn’t sure how much the guys had left in the tank. But we got off to the quick start offensively and did a good job of answering George Mason whenever they scored.”

In their third game in 28 hours, the Bearcats jumped out to a 7-3 lead over East Carolina on May 31 before the Pirates scored eight runs in the fifth inning. First baseman Dave Ciocchi went 3-for-4 with five RBI and outfielder Peter Bregartner added a two-run home run in the 16-9 loss.

Binghamton finished the season 30-23. The 30 victories broke the school record of 29 set last spring. The team also has now increased its win total in six consecutive seasons — no other program in the country has done that. Taylor and Ciocchi ended their sophomore and freshman years, respectively, by being named to the all-tournament team. Taylor also broke the school record for RBI in a season with 56. Other honors included Sinicki as America East coach of the year; Ciocchi as America East rookie of the year; and Murphy Smith as America East pitcher of the year.

The accolades continued on June 10, when Smith was selected by the Oakland A’s in the 13th round of the Major League Baseball draft. Smith, who completed his junior season, led the America East in wins, strikeouts and ERA in 2009. He is Binghamton’s second-highest draft pick, behind Dan Gray, who was picked in the seventh round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1990.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08