Baseball Looks for Playoff Appearance

Photo by Holly Lipka.

The baseball team swept a pair of nonconference doubleheaders over the weekend to improve their record to 20-12-2.

This is the first 20-win season for the Hawks since 2011 when the team finished with a record of 20-19.

First the Hawks defeated NYU on Friday, April 22 by scores of 6-1 and 3-0.

In the first game, Hawks fourth-year co-captain Andrew DiNardo made his first career start on the mound and earned the victory by throwing four innings and surrendering just one run on six hits while striking out three to improve his record to 2-0. DiNardo worked in and out of trouble as he stranded runners on first and third in the first and fourth innings, and escaped a bases loaded jam in the third inning.

New Paltz scored first in the fourth inning, as second-year second baseman Anthony Pantano walked to start the inning and third-year first baseman Anthony Diana would drive him home with an RBI double to left field. Fourth-year co-captain Tyler Bell would walk, and DiNardo would help his own cause with an RBI single. Bell would later score on a wild pitch to make it a 3-0 game.

The Hawks scored three more runs in the sixth inning as second-year third baseman Tom Read led off the inning with a single and a double by first-year shortstop Ryan Frost moved Read to third. Fourth-year second baseman Kyle Gilligan pinch-ran for Read and second-year right fielder Nick DePietro knocked in Gilligan and Frost with a single through the left side. DePietro would later score on a throwing error while attempting to steal third base to make the score 6-1, which proved to be the final tally.

Hawks second-year pitchers Brian LoRusso and Kevin Montefusco and third-year pitcher Kevin Frank combined for three scoreless innings out of the bullpen to keep the score intact. Diana led the New Paltz offense going 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, an RBI and a run scored.

In the second game, New Paltz scored a run in the first inning, and that would be all they would need as the Hawks shutout the Violets 3-0.

The Hawks manufactured a run in the first inning without the use of a hit. DePietro walked to start the game and stole second. Hawks second-year center fielder Jake Williams would walk and later get caught in a rundown, allowing DePietro to score.

New Paltz would score again in the fourth inning as DiNardo would drive in second-year first baseman Chris Moran with an RBI single. An RBI triple by Williams in the fifth inning drove in DePietro and made it a 3-0 game, which proved to be the final score.

Hawks first-year pitcher Justin Stybel started the game for New Paltz and improved his record to 3-0 by throwing six scoreless innings, surrendering just two hits while walking two and striking out two. Second-year pitcher Ryan Votypka would strike out the side in the seventh inning to pick up his third save of the season.

DePietro led the Hawk attack by going 2-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored. He also added three stolen bases to his stat sheet.

“It was great to take two against NYU,” Hawks fourth-year co-captain Brett Wisner said. “Those two wins give us a chance to potentially break the school’s win record and we also played some excellent baseball. The defense and pitching were especially stellar.”

Then on Saturday, April 23 the Hawks swept a nonconference doubleheader against Elmira College. New Paltz dominated the first game by winning 12-1.

The Soaring Eagles struck first in the first inning, as third-year first baseman Dylan Bellinger launched a solo home run over the left-center field fence. That would be the only run Elmira would score.

New Paltz got even in their half of the inning, as Williams came around to score on a fielder’s choice. DiNardo would come around to score on a double play in the second inning to give the Hawks the lead. New Paltz would then score four runs in the third inning, two in the fourth inning and four in the fifth inning.

Diana led the offense as he went 2-for-4 with four RBIs and two runs scored. Read also had a strong day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two walks, two RBIs and two runs scored. Williams, Pantano, Bell and Frost each had multiple hits in the contest.

Second-year pitcher Conor Donachie started the game for New Paltz, and allowed just one run on three hits in seven innings of work while striking out four to improve his record to 5-2. Second-year pitcher and outfielder Jeff Sarra pitched two perfect innings in relief.

The second game proved to be much closer, as the Hawks came out victorious 2-1 in an extra-inning game thanks to a walk-off home run.

New Paltz got on the board in the fourth inning, as Pantano led off with a double and Moran knocked him in with an RBI single to make it a 1-0 game.

The game was scheduled to only go seven innings, but Bellinger led off the top of the seventh with a double. He would advance to third on a sacrifice bunt.

LoRusso came out of the bullpen and threw one pitch to get one out, putting New Paltz one out away from the win. Votypka then came in for relief, and gave up a game-tying double to Soaring Eagles second-year catcher Will Jenkins. Votypka struck out the next batter to end the inning.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, DePietro doubled to right-center field with one out. A groundout advanced DePietro to third, but the Hawks could not capitalize on the opportunity.

Then in the bottom of the ninth inning DiNardo singled with one out and then Diana singled, advancing DiNardo to second. Frost would then ground into a fielder’s choice to put runners on first and third with two out, but New Paltz failed to score again.

In the bottom of the 10th inning, DePietro finally ended the game by smashing a 1-0 pitch over the left field fence for a walk-off home run.

“The second game against Elmira just proved how hard we have been fighting all season,” Bell said. “I think last season we would have lost a game like that. Nick [DePietro] has been great all season, so for him to come up big with the walk-off home run really shows the type of impact player he is.”

On the day, DePietro went 2-for-5, a double and a home run, with an RBI and a run scored. Pantano went 2-for-4 with two doubles and a run scored.

Hawks fourth-year pitcher Christian Huertas started the game and threw six and one-third innings, giving up just one run on two hits while striking out four. Wisner picked up the win in relief, his first of the season, by throwing two hitless innings out of the bullpen.

On Wednesday, April 27 New Paltz lost to Union (N.Y.) College by a score of 4-3. DePietro stole home in the game, but the loss dropped the team’s record to 20-13-2.

“Union is a regional powerhouse, they’re always good,” Hawks head coach Matt Righter said. “The most important thing is getting our guys ready for the Brockport series. But every time we have a game, we go out there and we play to win.”

The Hawks will conclude their regular season this weekend with a three-game home stand against The College at Brockport from Friday, April 29 to Saturday, April 30. The Hawks will also host both Alumni Weekend and Senior Day during the series.

Bell explained that the team is really looking forward to the weekend.

“Being that it is senior day and alumni weekend when we take on Brockport; that really has us all excited to be able to play in front of a decent crowd,” Bell said. “Hopefully we can clinch a playoff spot after this weekend.”

New Paltz can clinch a playoff spot over the weekend, as they hold a two-game lead over SUNY Fredonia who sits in fifth place. The Hawks sit in fourth-place and the top four teams in the SUNYAC advance to the playoffs. Fredonia will face SUNY Plattsburgh, who are in last place in the SUNYAC, during the same weekend. The Hawks’ opponent, Brockport, are third in the conference and have clinched a playoff spot.

So long as the Hawks win one game against Brockport, they will clinch a playoff spot. They will also clinch a playoff berth if Fredonia loses at least two games to Plattsburgh. New Paltz went 3-0 against Fredonia this season, and therefore hold the tiebreaker. In addition to that, the Hawks can steal the No. 3 seed from Brockport if they win at least two of their games this weekend.

“Everyone knows how important it is for us,” Wisner said. “We are in a great spot since we essentially control our own destiny.”

New Paltz can also break their program-record for wins in a season this weekend, as they currently have 20 wins and the record is 22 wins that the team set during the 2000 and 2001 seasons.

Aside from keeping the team both prepared and focused, Righter said he is hoping to pack the stands for the weekend.

“We’re contacting alumni and people around the campus to come to the games and make sure that there is a ‘10th man’ in the stands,” Righter said. “I’d love to have a lot of people there for that series and help give us a home field advantage.”