VESTAL, N.Y. – After a memorable run to the NCAA tournament in 2016 and a record-setting gift for stadium upgrades in the offseason, Binghamton baseball is riding high as the 2017 season nears. The Bearcats, who have advanced to the NCAAs in three of the last four years, released their 2017 schedule and the reigning America East champions will open with a three-game set at New Mexico on Feb. 17-19.
The 53-game slate begins with 14 straight non-conference road games before the America East portion begins March 18-19 at Hartford. By the time BU welcomes UMBC to its new turf and lighted stadium on April 8, the Bearcats will have played 25 straight road games to open the spring. The home complex upgrades were made possible by an anonymous $2.2 million gift to the program. Construction began in October with lights already erected and FieldTurf to follow.
A big challenge awaits right out of the gate when BU opens against a New Mexico team that won 39 games en route to the Mountain West title and NCAA berth last spring. Binghamton will also face teams from the ACC (Virginia Tech, March 3-5), Atlantic 10 (Richmond, Feb. 26), CAA (Delaware, March 11-12), MAC (Toledo on Feb. 24-25) and Big Ten (Penn State, March 28) among others.
“Every year the goal is to put together a schedule filled with early-season and mid-week challenges in hopes that those games help prepare us as a program for the rigorous demands of the America East Conference,” 25-year head coach Tim Sinicki said. “I most certainly believe we’ve accomplished that with the 2017 schedule and are excited to get to Albuquerque for the season opener.”
The Bearcats will keep traditional games against New York State rivals Cornell (April 12 and 25), Marist (April 19), St. Bonaventure (May 2) and Siena (May 10). The 6 p.m. home tilt against Cornell on April 25 is slated to be the first night home game in program history.
During a stretch that begins in mid-April, BU will play 14 straight games at home, where the team opened with 14 straight wins in 2016. Binghamton was the last unbeaten home team in the nation last spring.
The 24-game conference schedule is comprised of three-game weekend sets. The Bearcats will play home-and-home series’ against Hartford and UMass Lowell (6 games each) and then play three-game sets against Stony Brook, Maine, UMBC and Albany. The six-team conference tournament will be played May 25-27 at Lowell’s Le Lacheur Park, the site of BU’s epic nine-run, ninth-inning comeback win over Hartford in last year’s winners’ bracket game. One day later, BU had the championship trophy in its hands and the program’s fourth NCAA berth in the last eight years.
Sinicki returns seven position starters and five of six starting pitchers from that squad, that went on to battle No. 1 Texas A&M and Minnesota at the NCAA Regionals.