The baseball team ended their 2014 season last weekend with two doubleheader losses to Ithaca College and SUNY Oneonta.
The 14-22 Hawks were downed 7-2 and 11-1 in the seven-inning doubleheader against the strong pitching Bombers of Ithaca on April 26.
The following day the team ended conference play with a 6-12 record in the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) for the season, losing both games to the Red Dragons and losing a potential playoff spot for the SUNYAC tournament.
The Hawks’ Captains stepped up to the plate in the first game as fourth-year Captain Steven Morse hit a single down the right field line and was brought home by third-year Captain Richard Guido with a single through the left side in the first. Third-year catcher and first-baseman Mike Sparacino led the second-inning off with a single to center and was brought home by a sacrifice fly by second-year catcher Tyler Bell.
The Red Dragons responded with first-year southpaw pitcher and outfielder David Wright earning Oneonta’s first tally with in a single in the bottom of the third.
Fourth-year Captain Andrew Grann had five strike outs and allowed only four hits within the first game, faltering only in the bottom of the sixth when Wright advanced to third on a wild pitch, and was brought home, along with fourth-year infielder Christopher Orlando on a stolen second, via a single to left field by third-year infielder Dylan Stamile, defeating the Hawks 3-2.
In the second game, Oneonta brought in third-year southpaw pitcher Steven Ascher, who lasted 6.2 innings, while allowing only three hits and eight strike outs.
In the ninth, fourth-year Captain David Lostaglio capitilized on his last time at bat for the Hawks with a single that brought in two runs, making the final score 5-2.
Head Coach Matt Righter said although the team didn’t accomplish all of the goals he wanted to establish during his first year as head coach of the Hawks, he believes the team has only begun to tap into their potential.
“Every program needs to start somewhere,” Righter said, “I think I set the foundation for the principals and plays we need to be a successful team.”
Righter cites base-running as a critical aspect of the game the team worked on throughout the season and will continue to work on as the program progresses.
“A lot of times we didn’t get the extra base, didn’t score a run when we could. It’s an area that constantly needs improving,” he said.
Grann, Lostaglio, Morse and fourth-year Captain Chris Pyz set the “groundwork” of the type of culture he is looking to create for the program and are going to be a tough element of the team to replace going forward, he said.
Morse said as a team, the highlight of the season was the third game in the Fredonia series, where the Hawks defeated the Blue Devils 6-4.
“We were down by two runs in the last inning of a series-deciding game, and rallied back as a team and scored four runs in the bottom of the the inning to take control of the contest,” Morse said.
Righter said Morse, who boasted a .366 batting average and 10 RBIs, was a standout player this year after overcoming adversity last season.
“He struggled last year. He broke his finger, came back, and hit better and got faster – how does that happen?” Righter said, adding that other key players inlcuded Grann, with a 3.02 ERA and had a 4-4 record on the season, second-year infielder/catcher Andrew DiNardo and fourth-year infielder/outfielder Kenny Gentile.
Righter said DiNardo and first-year infielder and outfielder Anthony Diana will be valuable assets heading into next year.
Diana, who dislocated his shoulder during the team’s play in Myrtle Beach, was batting .350 prior to his injury, Righter said. He expects him to come back next season and be one of the top players in the conference.
Righter is also enthusiastic about the 15 to 20 recruits entering the program next year, who he hopes will bring a high level of competitiveness to the team and keep every player on their toes.
“The number one thing we need is competition,” he said. “It’s going to be very competitive to make the team, and then when they make the team, to play. That’s what I want. Players who know how to compete and know how to win.”
This constant desire to push players and improve on the personal and team level is what players said puts Righter in a category of his own when it comes to coaches.
“He did all that a coach can do to put his team in a position to win,” Lostaglio said. “He brought a lot of creatvity and experience to the program. His knowledge of the game is unlike any I have ever been around.”
“He pushed us to our limits while maintaining a possitive attitude and brought in two great assistant coaches,” he said. “With Coach Righter at the helm, the sky is the limit.”