FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
VESTAL, N.Y. – Reigning America East champion Binghamton baseball has released its 2014 schedule and the 52-game slate features three first-time opponents and the earliest start date in school history. The Bearcats will play 28 non-conference games in addition to their 24-game conference slate.
Binghamton, which has advanced to the NCAA tournament twice in the last five years, begins its spring campaign with a three-game set at ACC member Duke on February 14 – nine days earlier than the 2013 opener. The series in Durham, N.C. will begin a stretch of 18 consecutive road games to begin the season.
The non-conference slate consists of opponents from nine different conferences, including the SEC (Georgia) and the ACC (Duke, Boston College). After playing three single games against the Blue Devils (Feb. 14-16), Binghamton will play a three-game set at CAA member James Madison (Feb. 21-23). The teams split a four-game set to open the 2013 campaign. The following weekend, BU travels to Athens, Ga. for a first-time encounter with the Bulldogs, who reside in the powerful SEC. After that three-game series at Georgia (Feb. 28-March 2), BU faces familiar foe VMI the next weekend (March 7-9). The teams split a four-game series in 2013.
“The first four weekends of non-conference play are the most difficult we’ve ever scheduled,” said 22nd-year head coach Tim Sinicki. “Quality opponents from the ACC, SEC, Colonial and Big South will certainly give us a chance to see where we are as a team heading into America East Conference play.”
With the addition of new America East member UMass Lowell, the conference slate has been revamped from 30 to 24 games. Each weekend conference series will consist of an opening doubleheader followed by a single game on Sunday. The Bearcats begin with a three-game series at Lowell on March 15 and and then play three more on the road (at Hartford on March 22-23) before hosting Bucknell in the team’s home opener on March 25.
On an off-weekend from league play, BU returns to the road to renew acquaintances with Mt. St. Mary’s (March 29-30). The teams haven’t met in 12 years. Four straight home games follow with UMBC (April 5-6) and Cornell (April 9) paying a visit to the Bearcats Sports Complex. The Cornell tilt begins a home-and-home sequence with the Big Red, Binghamton’s closest geographic rival. Cornell hosts the April 22 return game. Other non-conference games include several in-state rivals – perennial MAAC power Marist (April 15), Atlantic 10 member St. Bonaventure (April 23) and 2013 MAAC runnerup Siena (April 29).
The unbalanced 24-game America East schedule has BU facing Lowell and Hartford six times apiece and Maine, Stony Brook, UMBC and Albany three games apiece. The top four teams will advance to the America East Championship, hosted by Lowell on May 21-23. The River Hawks are ineligible as new members but will welcome the double-elimination tournament back to LeLacheur Park for a second straight year.
“From top to bottom the America East continues to improve each and every year,” Sinicki said. “All of the coaching staffs are doing a great job recruiting and developing players, and it’s making the conference balanced, competitive and a wide-open race late in the season.”
The Bearcats return 21 letterwinners and all nine starting position players from their 2013 team. That squad went 30-25 and won nine of its final 13 games to capture the conference title and advance to the NCAA Regionals.