Baseball Says “Play Ball” on New Season

Photo by Ali Grundy.

The baseball team traveled to Maryland on Saturday, Feb. 27 and Sunday, Feb. 28 and came out with two nonconference losses and a tie — which came after a big comeback against Johns Hopkins University.

Although they did not come out with any wins, the Hawks demonstrated potential for their upcoming games.

On Saturday, Feb. 27 New Paltz went up against Washington (MD.) College. Hawks second-year pitcher Conor Donachie had a strong pitching performance in the first four innings where he held the Shoremen scoreless and hitless.

It wasn’t until the fifth inning where Washington drove in six runs. It all started when second-year catcher Wes Robertson hit a RBI single into center field, which was followed up by an 3-run triple down the right field line by first-year infielder and outfielder Luke D’Ostilio, and capped off by a two-run home run from fourth-year outfielder Bryan Baquer.

The Hawks were unable to make a comeback as the Shoremen plated four more runs in the seventh inning and four more in the eighth to win 14-0.

After the first game, Hawks Head Coach Matt Righter said that even though the team suffered a tough loss he noticed some good player performances and the team improved as the weekend went on.

“In our first game, we looked like we weren’t quite ready for the outside environment,” Righter said. “However, our starting pitching was excellent, Conor [Donachie]  looked great and a few fly balls were misjudged in the outfield, which is common. But as the weekend went on, we got better, especially our hitters which was encouraging.”

The following day the Hawks went to Johns Hopkins University to play the first game of a two-game series. First, the Hawks took on Keystone College where they started to show some offense in a 16-6 loss.

The Hawks started off going up 1-0 after second-year outfielder and right-handed pitcher Jake Williams reached first base on an error and second-year outfielder and infielder Nick DePietro scored on the throw for an unearned run.

However, things didn’t go the way New Paltz wanted until the fifth inning, which featured a grand slam by Giants second-year outfielder Austin Chaszar. This was followed by a three-run home run by Hawks fourth-year first baseman Chris Baltera. In the sixth inning, the Hawks gave up five more runs, before retaliating and scoring two more in the bottom half of the inning with an RBI apiece from DePietro and Williams.

The Hawks gave up one more run on a fielder’s choice in the ninth before the game came to an end. Hawks fourth-year co-captain Brett Wisner said that after the game they wanted to finish the series off with a win.

“We didn’t get down on ourselves at all,” Wisner said. “We knew that we had to salvage the weekend and end it on a positive note.”

Later in the day, the Hawks faced an early 3-0 deficit against Johns Hopkins before Hawks second-year infielder Anthony Pantano hit an RBI single to center field to bring the score to 3-1.

The Blue Jays would extend their lead to 7-1 as they scored four runs off two New Paltz errors in the bottom of the third. A sacrifice fly from Hawks second-year outfielder and pitcher Chris Moran brought home Baltera to give the Hawks another run. However, the Blue Jays once again had the advantage as fourth-year infielder Raul Shah hit a three-run homer for a commanding 10-2 lead heading into the fifth inning.

This is where the Hawks’ comeback began. In the top of the sixth, Hawks fourth-year infielder Kyle Gilligan and Moran each got on base with hits. Second-year catcher Tyler Laco came up to bat and singled home Gilligan. First-year infielder and right-handed pitcher Ryan Frost followed with a double to send Moran home and placed Laco in scoring position. Johns Hopkins secured the second out before Hawks fourth-year co-captain Andrew DiNardo plated a single that brought home Laco, narrowing the deficit to 10-5.

DePietro and Frost took advantage of a Blue Jays fielding error to score two more before Williams hit an RBI single to bring DiNardo in for the run.

The Hawks tied the game at 10-all in the top of the seventh before grabbing their first lead of the night when DePietro walked with the bases loaded, bringing in Williams in the top of the eighth. The Blue Jays tied the score on a solo homer in the bottom of the inning by third-year shortstop Conor Reynolds, but both teams would remain scoreless in the ninth inning as the game was brought to an end due to darkness.

Righter was pleased with the team’s desire to perform well when needed. He said that losing the first two games and going down against Johns Hopkins seemed more like a moment of realization for his players.

“I think losing certainly has a specific kind of motivation,” Righter said. “You don’t want to lose and eventually, you have to look at yourself in the mirror and think ‘come on, we put in all of this work so let’s go get the job done and win some games.’ We’re in that moment where we can make some excuses for our guys, but ultimately they have to get the job done and they’re good enough to do it.”

The Hawks will go up against Purchase College Wednesday, March 9 and Mount Saint Mary College Saturday, March 12, before they travel to Florida for the Russmatt Central Florida Invitational from Thursday, March 17 to Wednesday, March 23.

Wisner feels that the team can carry their momentum into their upcoming games in order to make the playoffs and have a successful season.

“The environment is great thus far,” Wisner said. “Everyone is working hard and doing their part. After not making the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) playoffs for the past two seasons, we would all like to get back there. Everything seems to be falling into place and people are filling into their roles. I expect to see everyone with the mindset of ‘getting the job done’ and with that, the wins will follow.”