FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
VESTAL, N.Y.—Having opened its new state-of-the-art stadium in the fall, Binghamton baseball heads into its 2013 spring season with a home field and added enthusiasm. The team’s 50-game slate begins with a four-game weekend series at CAA-member James Madison on February 22-24.
The series against the Dukes begins an abbreviated 12-game non-conference stretch before the America East slate begins with a three-game set at UMBC on March 16. The starting date for conference play is three weeks earlier than previous years, giving teams less time to solidify their lineups before beginning the grind of 30 league games.
“Each and every year you create a schedule with one thing in mind … how can we best prepare our players in non-conference games so that they are ready to compete for an America East Conference championship,” Sinicki said. “There is no question in my mind that we have done that in 2013.”
After the trip to Harrisonburg, Va. to face James Madison, BU returns to Virginia for a four-game series with Virginia Military Institute on March 1-3. The Keydets play out of the Big South Conference.
“It’s been a few years since we’ve taken our teams to James Madison and VMI, but I know both those coaching staffs working extremely hard and prepare them teams very well every season so those will be difficult tests right out of the gate,” 21-year head coach Tim Sinicki said.
The marquee road trip is to Morgantown, W.Va. for a four-game series with Big 12 member West Virginia.
“This will be our first trip down there and our first games against a Big 12 opponent since 2005 (Oklahoma State). I know their new coaching staff signed 19 players for the coming season and our guys are excited about the challenge.”
After league play opens, BU will face non-conference foes from four different conferences (Patriot League, MAAC, Ivy League, Atlantic 10), including single home-and-away games with traditional rivals Cornell, Siena and Marist. The Big Red won 31 games last spring and advanced to the NCAA regionals. Marist won 25 games to continue its solid standing in the MAAC. The Bearcats will also play Bucknell (March 26) and St. Bonaventure (April 17).
Unlike previous years, Binghamton has nine conference games scheduled for March, highlighted by a three-game home set against 2012 conference champion and College World Series participant Stony Brook on March 23-24. Weather permitting, they will be the earliest home games in the program’s 11-year Division I tenure. The earliest home game during that span has been a March 28 doubleheader against Niagara in 2006.
The new facility, which was completed in September, affords the Bearcats a home schedule that was missing in 2012 and the 19 scheduled games at the home complex will give fans a good opportunity (and comfortable seats) to support their team.
“We are all looking forward to playing back on campus this spring in our new facility,” Sinicki said. “Nineteen home games is the most we’ve ever had in a spring season. We are hoping to really create excitement and a great environment here on campus, and turn the new facility into a true home field advantage.”
The top four teams in the conference will advance to the America East Championship, held May 22-25 at the home field of the highest seed. The conference postseason champion receives an automatic berth into the NCAA regionals. Since 2004 BU has maintained the second-highest win percentage in the conference (63%). Binghamton captured the regular season and postseason titles in 2009, advancing to the NCAA regionals.
“With the new format we now play 30 conference games in what I think is an ever-improving America East Conference,” Sinicki said. “The balance within the conference is at an all-time high and trying to figure out who will finish first through sixth is like splitting hairs.”