April 23, 2010
CHS bats awaken
A change of scenery did wonders for the Cortland High baseball team Thursday.
The Purple Tigers, who came into their 11 a.m. non-league start against New Hartford at SUNY Cortland’s Wallace Field with just 29 hits in five games, added 13 more to that total against a trio of Spartan pitchers en route to a 12-8 victory.
“We finally hit the ball a little,” said CHS coach John Tobin, whose team improved to 4-2 and was 3-2 in the OHSL Freedom Division heading into this morning’s game at Syracuse CBA. “It was nice to see the seniors get some big swings in. Everyone’s been struggling; we had a big inning (the five-run second) where we strung a few hits together, and is was contagious.
“The guys are starting to play better ball, and hit better. I don’t think Brian used all of his best pitchers,” he added, referring to New Hartford coach and former SUNY Cortland player Brian LaLonde. “It’s the same thing as us, with league games coming up. Hopefully this helps get us ready for those league games.”
Wielding one of the biggest sticks, and helping himself out in the process, was senior starting pitcher and winner Justin Burns, who went 3-for-3 with a triple, an RBI and two runs scored. “We definitely started to hit,” he said. We’ve had some trouble with that, but have done a lot of work in practice and picked it up today.
“This was a good win, because they beat us in sectionals last year (4-1 in the second round). We needed this heading into the CBA game,” added Burns. “At 4-2 we’re going into that game with a winning edge now.”
Senior first baseman Matt Carr went 2-for-3 in the game for the winners with a home run, triple, two RBIs and two runs, while senior catcher Jake Robillard went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run, senior shortstop Tony Whitt was 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs and senior leftfielder-relief pitcher Ryann Hubbard hit a two-run homer. Also driving in a pair of runs apiece were senior second baseman Brandon Watkins and junior third baseman Alex Stacy.
Junior leftfielder Mike Szczesniak went 3-for-3 with three RBIs and a run for New Hartford, which fell to 1-4, while junior designated hitter-first baseman Chris Faro was 3-for-4 with an RBI and three runs.
“We’re just trying to find guys who can pitch,” LaLonde said. “We’re real young (with five seniors on a 15-player roster) and trying to figure things out. Cortland is a better team than we are right now; they swing the bat well. It’s nice to play a team that hits like that.
“We didn’t quit. In the last inning we were one batter away from getting our best player up with the bases loaded, so we still had a chance.”
NEW HARTFORD opened the scoring in the top of the second as junior rightfielder-pitcher Nick DeCrisi lashed a two-run single up the middle. The Purple Tigers then took the lead for good in the bottom of the same inning.
Carr led off with his homer to left off Spartans junior starter and loser Ben Zalewski, and one out later junior rightfielder Ryan Flatt reached on an infield error before sophomore centerfielder Devon Darrow was hit by a pitch and Whitt beat out an infield single to load the bases. Flatt scored on a groundout by Watkins before Stacy laced a two-run single up the middle, stole second and scored on a single to left by Burns.
New Hartford closed to within 5-3 in the top of the third on an infield error with men on first and second, and CHS answered with three more runs in the bottom of the same frame. Robillard beat out a one-out bunt single and Flatt singled to left. Both runners moved up on a double steal and, one out later, Whitt singled to score Robillard. Flatt then scored on a wild pitch, and Watkins singled to left to bring Whitt home.
Cortland went up 10-3 with two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Burns tripled to center and came home one out later on a triple to left by Carr, who in turn scored on a single to center by Robillard.
An RBI single by Faro and a two-run single by Szczesniak in the top of the fifth helped the Spartans close the gap to five, at 10-5, and the hosts again answered in the bottom of the inning, Burns drawing a two-out walk before Hubbard launched a two-run bomb to left to close out their scoring.
Hubbard came on in the top of the sixth in relief of Burns and allowed two seventh-inning runs on RBI singles by Sczcesniak and Turi before slamming the door on the visitors’ rally.
“MY FASTBALL WAS working,” said Burns, who improved to 2-0 while giving up seven hits and five earned ruins with one strikeout in his five innings of work. “I got behind some hitters but was able to come back and get a lot of ground balls. My curve kept them off the fast ball.”
“Burns did a nice job and threw strikes. Hubbard’s job was to throw strikes, too, which he did. We were a little lackadaisical on defense, but he did a good job of finishing things,” said Tobin after Hubbard gave up five hits and two earned runs with one strikeout over the final two innings.
“It was nice of coach Brown (SUNY Cortland coach Joe Brown) to have us on the field. A lot of our kids go to his camps, and it’s an opportunity for them to come out and play in front of him,” added Tobin.
Despite a less than stellar result to the start of a homecoming tour that also included a 9-8 loss to Homer Central later on (see related story) — dropping his team to 1-5 — LaLonde, who graduated from SUNY Cortland in 1995, smiled and said that “It’s always nice to come down and see Joe. The field looks good, and this is a nice setting. When John made the offer to come here and play them, we jumped right at it.”
“It’s vacation, and the kids are here, so it’s good to play ball,” Tobin said.
CORTLAND JVs rolled to a 12-1 victory over New Hartford to improve to 6-1 on the season as starter and winner Brian Hughes allowed one hit (with one out in the fifth) and no runs with 15 strikeouts in six innings. The Spartans got their lone run, and another hit, off reliever Vinnie Bellardini in the seventh.
Cory Broyles led the Purple Tiger offense, going 3-for-3 with two RBIs and three runs, while Hughes (double), Kody Cranston (double), Parker Williamson (double) and Justin Travis had the other CHS hits and Connor Griffin drove in three runs.
The Cortland JVs visit Homer at 4:30 p.m. Monday.
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