Final Strike Out

The 2011 season for the Men’s Baseball Team came to a close May 6 when the team fell to SUNY Cortland and the College at Brockport.
The 2011 season for the Men’s Baseball Team came to a close May 6 when the team fell to SUNY Cortland and the College at Brockport.

The 2011 season for the Men’s Baseball team reached its final out Friday, May 6 when the team lost games to SUNY Cortland and the College at Brockport in the SUNYAC Championship Tournament.

Despite having the lowest team ERA in the history of the club and performing defensively, the Hawks were ousted by scores of 6-1 and 9-8 on the opening day of the tournament.

“I am proud of what [the team] accomplished this year,” Head Coach Matt Griffiths said. “Making the SUNYAC playoffs for the first time since 2001 was a step in the right direction and something to build upon for next season.”

The Hawks finished their season with a combined record of 20-19 and a 9-9 record against other SUNYAC clubs.

The team started off their season with a double-header sweep against SUNY Old Westbury and came out of the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic in Ft. Myers, Fla. with an 8-9 record.

Once SUNYAC conference games started in late March, the team began to bunch wins and losses in streaks including losing six of eight games before winning six straight games in mid-April.

However, on April 30 the Hawks defeated SUNY Cortland for the first time since 1995 by a score of 3-2. This win propelled the Hawks into the postseason and was a high point of the season, according to Griffiths.

First-year left fielder Jimmy Briggs, who was one of 10 players selected to the SUNYAC All Tournament team by host-team SUNY Cortland for their performance at the event, went three-for-four at the plate during the team’s elimination game on May 6. Despite hitting a three-run homer and robbing Brockport of a home run in the seventh inning, the team fell to the Golden Eagles by a score of 9-8.

Despite the team’s early exit in the playoffs, both Griffiths and members of the team believe this season was a step in the right direction.

“This year was a major step for the program,” third-year infielder Paul Merola said. “You can tell how much better the program has gotten. We wanted to do more damage in the playoffs, but now we have set a standard. We made a name for ourselves.”

Looking back on the season, Griffiths said he thought the team had an undeniable passion that translated into a solid season for the Hawks.

“Our guys love the game and it shows on the field,” Griffiths said. “There is never a dull moment.”

Besides Briggs, Hawks who were honored over the season included second-year Chris Chismar, who was named the SUNYAC Pitcher of the Week twice, while third-year Jake Cameron, second-year Matt Kaldon and second-year Matt Prescia were named to the All-Conference Team. Third-year second baseman Chris Paulicelli was also named SUNYAC Baseball Player of the Week for his performance over the week ending on May 1.

Chismar’s accolades highlight the strong seasons the hawks received from many pitchers. The staff ended the season with a collective 4.05 ERA while striking out 257 opponents and throwing eight complete games.

Chismar, who led the team with a 2.64 ERA, said he believes the team excelled with strong pitching performances and played solid defense, but timely hitting would have been able to push the Hawks over the edge.

“We couldn’t get the timing right,” Chismar said. “We would get a single here or a single there but we couldn’t put enough in a row to move guys over.”

The Hawks offense finished the season with a .273 average, hitting 11 home runs and garnering 143 RBIs as a team.

One of the team’s most productive hitters was newly transferred designated hitter Cameron. Cameron made his name known on the team – leading the Hawks in slugging percentage, hits, run scored, doubles, total bases, RBIs and was tied for the team lead in home runs with four.

Other offensive standouts included Prescia, who finished his 2011 campaign with a team high .360 batting average, and Kaldon who finished third on the team in slugging percentage, total hits and doubles.

Merola and Chismar agreed that this year’s team was unique because of the amount of depth the team had at every position. Earlier in the season Griffiths believed this would help the Hawks and would be one of their strengths.

“We had a lot more guys than any other year,” Chismar said. “We had two or three guys at every position who could be a starter. Overall we had a strong roster.”

As for the future, Griffiths hopes to learn from this year and will expect more from the Hawks next season.

“The program can only improve if the players get it better and grow as student athletes,” Griffiths said. “We will look to be more productive in every aspect of what we do.”