The baseball team is off to a 1-2 start to the regular season after the first weekend of play.
The Hawks came out of the first weekend of regular season with a win in their first game against then-No. 10 Randolph-Macon College, which marked the first win for new head coach Arlan Freeman.
“It was a good win to get under the belt,” Freeman said. “I think we learned a lot about our team this weekend. We had an opportunity to have some adversity and I thought we met it well. When the other teams scored, we fought back and scored right after them which is a sign of a good team.”
After a 20-win season in 2016, a 13-win improvement from 2015, the Hawks look to clinch a berth in the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) playoffs for the first time since 2013.
New Paltz has only seen the postseason twice since 2010 (2011, 2013) and came close last year until they were eliminated from playoff contention after suffering four consecutive losses to finish off their season.
The season featured a series win against No. 1 ranked SUNY Cortland on Friday, March 18 and Saturday, March 19 in part of a week-long trip to Florida. This was the first SUNYAC series that New Paltz ever won against Cortland.
“They beat Cortland twice last year, that’s great,” Freeman said. “But I don’t want them looking at what they did in the past, but rather how they would implement that into their future.
“Experience and knowledge equals wisdom. And as the season progresses, we’ll have more experiences to lean on.”
In Freeman’s first game of his Hawks coaching career, his team delivered 13 runs on 15 hits against the Yellow Jackets.
Down 1-0 after the first inning, third-year designated hitter Chris Moran tied the game on a sacrifice fly in the second and the Hawks never looked back. They were up 5-2 after the third inning until the seventh inning, where the team scored six unanswered runs.
Third-year third baseman Jake Williams was credited with the game-winning double, as he drove in the third and fourth runs in the third inning to give the Hawks a strong start to a new era.
Third-year pitcher Conor Donachie had a strong performance in his first start of the season, giving up two runs on seven hits through 5 1/3 innings. Fourth-year captain Taylor Anderson and first-year outfielder Savino Citriniti racked in three hits for the Hawks as well.
“Conor Donachie had a great start,” Freeman said. “He is a competitor and we talked about a ‘bend not break’ mentality and I think he exemplified that to an extent. Our pitching staff did a good job throwing strikes in the game and we will carry that going ahead.”
The following day, New Paltz dropped a 12-4 decision against Alvernia University. The Hawks struck first with third-year second baseman Anthony Pantano driving in third-year outfielder Nick DiPietro on a single to left field for an early 1-0 lead.
Alvernia answered with two runs in the bottom of the first after they got on base with a fielder’s choice and drove in another run off a sacrifice fly.
Second-year pitcher and reigning SUNYAC Rookie of the Year Justin Stybel was given the loss after giving up two earned runs and six hits through three innings.
“He had a rocky start,” Freeman said. “But we got through to him and I think he’s going to pitch better this weekend. He had a hard time commanding his fastball, he was falling behind guys and Alvernia is arguably the best team we faced all weekend.”
After an 11-11 tie on Feb. 28 last year against Johns Hopkins University, the Hawks were unable to score a run against the Blue Jays in this year’s matchup. They were unable to capitalize on their scoring chances, being shutout 6-0.
The Hawks biggest scoring chance came in the top of the fifth inning, as they had the bases loaded with one out. They were unable to capitalize on any scoring chances during the six-hit shutout.
“Whether we win as a team or lose as a team, team chemistry is always the deciding factor in a win or loss,” Freeman said. “These guys care about each other as much as they care about themselves and they’re selfless in their pursuit of success.”
The Hawks will play a doubleheader against Mount Saint Mary at Dutchess Stadium on Saturday, March 4 at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m and will go up against Purchase College a few days later on Wednesday, March 8.