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12 Sports Athletes of the Week: Binghamton baseball starting rotation

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VESTAL (WBNG) -- The Binghamton baseball team's starting rotation has gotten off to a hot start this season.

The rotation consists of sophomores Thomas Babalis, Ryan Bryggman, Jack Collins and junior Josh Kopcza.

Through 20 games, the four pitchers have combined for a 4.09 ERA, good for second in the America East.

"We attack the strike zone," said Babalis. We want to get guys out. We're not afraid to go after any lineup."

"Every series we're going out there and challenging hitters," said Kopcza. "I think it's working out well for us so far."

With no non-conference games to start the season, Bryggman said they had to start ramping up early.

"Get the pitch count up as much as possible to get ready for these longer games was a big help," he said. "That's why I've been able to go longer than I have before."

The Bearcats most recently earned two wins over UMBC last weekend. Babalis earned his second win of the season, tossing a complete game with seven strikeouts.

"My goal every week is to go out there, pitch a game that helps my team win a series and win a game," said Babalis.

Babalis is coming off an impressive 2019 season that earned him a unanimous rookie of the year selection. This year, he's looking to build on that.

"Just want to go out there repeat like I did my freshman year. Just keep improving as a pitcher," he said.

Bryggman is the second man in the rotation and has a team-high six starts this year.

"Our pitching staff has done well," said Bryggman. "I'm just happy to be a part of it."

Bryggman made four relief appearances in 2020 before the season was canceled, and said he used the year off to work on all aspects of his game.

"It really allowed me to dive into my mechanics and the whole mental aspect of the game," he said.

Following him is fellow classmate, Jack Collins.

Last week, Collins led the nation in ERA. Currently, he ranks fourth in the conference with a 2.56 ERA.

"We're all really talented that even if we're a little bit experienced we all have pitched a really good amount for this program, and I think inexperience doesn't mean much," said Collins. "I think our talent is going to take us pretty far."

Kopcza closes out the rotation. He ranks sixth in the conference in ERA (3.04) and set a career-high 11 strikeouts a few weeks ago against NJIT.

"I feel like some good stuff and some nerves in the beginning," said Kopcza. "Especially being my first outing at home. It was nice to rack up some strikeouts. I've never really done that previously in my career."

With eight games remaining before the conference tournament, the rotation has one thing on its mind.

"Win an America East championship, go to regional and take it from there," said Kopzca.

The Bearcats travel to Stony Brook this weekend for a four-game series. Stony Brook currently leads the America East division B with a 16-4 record.

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Nicole Menner

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