Among the SUNY New Paltz Baseball team’s 14 wins this season came a landmark victory for Head Coach Matt Griffiths.
Griffiths earned his 100th win as a Hawk during the team’s 7-3 victory over SUNYAC rival SUNY Brockport. In his sixth season at the helm of the New Paltz Baseball program, Griffiths has compiled an overall record of 101-110.
In his first season as head coach, Griffiths’ Hawks had a record of 16-22, and his most recent complete season saw a winning record of 20-19.
Griffiths said the difference between the teams he has had in the past and the team he has now is not only personnel changes, but the type of players he wants running the offense.
“Every coach has a certain system that you want to run and for me it was about going out and finding the players who could succeed in the system I wanted to run,” Griffiths said. “In terms of our team, I tend to like guys who can execute the small part of the games, guys who can hustle.”
While the team has always been strong defensively, Griffiths said the offense has stepped into a new light this season. Second-year pitcher and recently named SUNYAC Pitcher of the Week Andrew Grann also said the team has improved in this aspect, but can continue to be more
“The team’s changed as we’ve become more of an aggressive force,” Grann said. “We need to keep stealing bases and just keep that up.”
The Hawks’ pitching staff has been key to the team’s success, as they had to “step up to the plate” during the team’s spring trip to Florida, Griffiths said.
“The pitchers really had to perform on short rest in most cases and did what was asked of them,” Griffiths said. “We came out of that trip with nine games played in five days and won seven of them. It’s a deep pitching staff and the quality of the staff is great.”
Two of the team’s pitchers, Grann and Chris Chismar, have been named SUNYAC Pitcher of the Week, with Grann earning ECAC Pitcher of the Week honors. Griffiths and Grann said the pitching staff’s goal is to get ahead in the count, with the first pitch being crucial.
“A few things we tend to focus on and they’ve bought in is we try to be as consistent as we can with things like first pitch strikes, just little things,” Griffiths said. “The typical college hitter is a .300 hitter. When you get a hitter behind in the count on the first pitch, they become a .250 hitter, so it’s so important to win those little battles.”
With the season halfway done, Grann said the team’s mindset of keeping consistent and winning the small battles will remain. Griffiths said if the team remains consistent and sticks to their game plan, hopes will be high come the SUNYAC Tournament.
“It isn’t about the opponent or the umpires, we’re just trying to play our system to the best of our ability and consistently, and we’re not changing our game plan based on who we’re facing,” Griffiths said. “The playoff teams are always the most consistent teams. It takes time for all of that to click, but once we get to the conference games we’ll be able to roll.”