Baseball Looks to Clinch SUNYAC Tournament Berth

Fourth-year first baseman Chris Moran currently has five home-runs on the year. (Photo courtesy of Sal Delio/Office of Communication and Marketing).

The baseball team went 5-3 in their last eight State University of New York (SUNYAC) conference games. Now 14-14 on the year, the Hawks control their own destiny to the playoffs.

In the eight-game stretch, New Paltz swept SUNY Plattsburgh, split a double-header with SUNY Fredonia and took one out of three against No. 6 SUNY Cortland. They can earn their second-consecutive SUNYAC tournament berth with a sweep in their last SUNYAC series against SUNY Oneonta.

“After getting swept in the Oswego series, we knew had to start taking care of business,” said fourth-year first baseman Chris Moran. “If we sweep Oneonta, we’re in. I think we’ve put ourselves in a pretty good position to do that.”

Dropping the first two games of the series 6-3 and 5-0 to Cortland, the Hawks were able to take the last game of the series 8-6. Cortland came out to take a 4-0 lead going into the bottom of the fourth, however, the Hawks answered quickly in the bottom half of that inning, with a double by fourth-year infielder and utility Jake Williams to start the inning, followed by a two-run home run by the red hot Moran.

A scoreless fifth inning by fourth-year pitcher Conor Donachie set up the Hawks to strike again in the bottom half. RBI singles by Moran and Williams tied the game up at four.

The Red Dragons responded in the sixth, scoring two runs on a RBI single and a hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded to make it 6-4. After fourth-year pitcher Ryan Votypka was able to get out of the jam, New Paltz tacked on another in the bottom inning when sophomore outfielder Matt Warshaw scored on a wild pitch to bring the Hawks behind by one.

New Paltz broke the game open after the seventh inning stretch, scoring three runs by taking advantage of Cortland’s mistakes to make it 8-6. A passed ball and a hit-by-pitch scored Moran and second-year catcher Zach Warenius, respectively, and third-year outfielder and utility Danny Campbell drove in an RBI with a single.

Votypka sealed the win for the Hawks, earning the win in the decision. He went four innings while allowing four hits and one run with four strikeouts.

“[Cortland] is No. 6 in the country for a reason, but beating them shows that they have a chink in their armour,” said head coach Arlan Freeman. “ We’ve shown we can beat any team in the nation.”

Earlier last week, New Paltz was able to split a SUNYAC double-header with Fredonia. The Hawks dropped the first game 9-8, winning the second 6-3.

After Fredonia took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning, the Hawks came back quickly in the bottom half of the inning. A two-run blast by fourth-year catcher Dwayne Page and a run on a wild pitch made the score 3-2 New Paltz.

Although the Blue Devils were able to even things at three in the top of third, New Paltz responded fast once again, scoring three runs in the bottom half from RBI singles by Warenius and fourth-year outfielder Brian Brenton, and a run on a throwing error to give the Hawks the lead at 6-3. 

Third-year pitcher Justin Stybel pitched scoreless fourth, fifth and sixth innings, earning the win, while fourth-year pitcher Jeff Sarra closed the door for the Hawks earning his first save of the year.

Prior to the split, New Paltz also swept Plattsburgh April 13-14 in a SUNYAC series 3-0. The Hawks won 8-5 on Friday, while winning 4-2 and 17-10 in the doubleheader on Saturday.

The Hawks offense was highlighted by three home-runs from Moran and eight RBIs from Brenton in the series. In the last game in which they won 17-10,  every Hawks batter had at-least one hit.

“Sweeping any team in our conference is no easy feat,” said third-year pitcher Michael Delio. “We’ve had a lot of unforeseen bumps in the road this year, but we’ve been able to play our best brand of baseball through those times and know we can handle anything thrown our way.”

After Wednesday’s match-up against former head coach Matt Righter’s Vassar Brewers was canceled due to weather, the Hawks look forward to their final SUNYAC series against Oneonta this weekend, April 27 and 28, followed by one final game against Fredonia on April 29.

“Our goal is to win all four games, and if we do, there will be no issue,” Freeman said. “We need to play aggressive, smart, Hawk baseball. One pitch, one at-bat, one inning, one game at a time.”