Series Win Vs. Brockport Keeps Baseball’s Playoff Hopes Alive

Fourth-year pitcher Justin Stybel is currently leading the team in innings pitched with 28.2 He earned the win in a complete game against Brockport. (Photo courtesy of Sal Delio)

After losing 7-4 in a non-conference matchup to Skidmore College Wednesday, the baseball team has a new wave of energy, earning its first State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) series win against The College at Brockport last weekend to still control their playoff chances.

“We came out and played with a sense of urgency,” said Hawks coach Thomas Seay. “We don’t have a lot of opportunities left and we can’t let an opportunity to win a series slip away. That sense of urgency was the difference today.” 

Fourth-year pitcher Michael Delio cruised through the top of the first inning of the third game in the series with a 1-2-3 slate and two strikeouts, but the right-hander could not get out of the second without giving a run to the Golden Eagles on a wild pitch and an RBI groundout to go down early, 1-0. With Delio continuing to cruise throughout the game with just that single run on his line, the Hawks just couldn’t get the offense going until late in the day.

Delio faced his first tough spot in the top of the seventh inning, where the bases were loaded after one Brockport batter singled and two others reached on errors. A left-handed batter coming up with two outs, coach Seay turned to third-year lefty reliever Justin Halper to get New Paltz out of the jam. He got the job done, stranding three Golden Eagle runners by forcing a groundout and brought the Hawks into the dugout with momentum on their side.

Third-year catcher and outfielder Matt McGee set the tone for New Paltz in the bottom of the inning, leading off with a walk and then advancing to second on a wild pitch. Second-year first baseman Dean Stalzer then came up next and got the Hawks first run on the board with an RBI double to tie the game at one.

After Brockport made a pitching change, New Paltz’s offensive onslaught continued with an RBI single from third-year outfielder Julian Francisco to take the lead. The Hawks racked on more off a walk with the bases loaded, a run on a wild pitch and a fourth-year outfielder Danny Campbell single to go ahead 5-1 and control the pace of the game from there on out.

“We all want to be the guy that steps up,” Stalzer said. “Danny [Campbell’s] been showing a lot of leadership and wants to make a point that everyone should want to be the guy, and everyone for the most part stepped up today and got the job done.”

Halper worked quickly in the top of the eighth, not allowing a hit and giving New Paltz another chance to extend the lead. A sacrifice fly by fourth-year infielder Ryan Frost did just that, moving the lead to 6-1 and putting the dagger in the Golden Eagles.

A 1-2-3 inning by Halper in the top of the ninth inning sealed the deal for the Hawks, winning the game 6-1 and taking their first SUNYAC series win of the year.

“This is a big win. We started off the season kind of rough, so we really needed this one,” Halper said. “We’ve been working for this and knew we were capable of it so to finally achieve it was a great thing.”

Fourth-year pitcher Justin Stybel was certainly working quick for New Paltz in game one of the series to give them the 1-0 advantage, getting through the first three innings rather easily in a 0-0 ballgame. The Golden Eagles took the first jab of the game in the top of the fourth, however, scoring twice off a home run and an error to take a 2-0 lead.

The Hawks offense answered in the bottom of the fourth, with Stalzer leading the inning off by reaching on an error and Frost driving him in to get on the board 2-1. After Stybel got out of a jam in the top of the fifth, New Paltz’s bats continued into the bottom half, scoring three more runs on RBI doubles by Campbell and fourth-year first baseman Justin Ganca and an RBI single from Francisco to go up, 4-2.

With both teams going scoreless in the sixth inning, a 1-2-3 inning by Stybel in the top of the seventh gave the Hawks the momentum they needed after the seventh inning stretch. In the bottom of the inning, New Paltz loaded the bases with no outs, leading to a two-RBI Stalzer double and a three-run home run by Ganca to extend the lead to 9-2 and take the advantage in the game.

Brockport scored once in the eighth, and twice more in the ninth, but it was not enough to mount a comeback. Stybel earned the win for the Hawks, chucking a complete game with 10 hits, four earned runs and five strikeouts.

Desperately needing a win to keep hope in their season last week, New Paltz found themselves up 9-6 to start the ninth inning against Stevens Institute of Technology. Then, in what was a back-and-forth contest, the Ducks came back to score three runs and tie the game at nine with the Hawks coming up to bat.

Trying to avoid extra innings, Frost led-off the bottom of the inning with a single. With one out, first-year infielder Mike Boccarossa hit an RBI double to bring Frost home and win the game in walk-off fashion, 10-9. 

“We’ve all been battling all season, and I just think there’s a time and place for everything,” Boccarossa said. “We’ve been struggling a little bit, and this is a huge pick me up for Brockport this weekend. We need this series, and without this win we could [have gone] downhill. We can’t ride the wave. We need to come out with a lot of energy this weekend.”

 The Hawks will travel to SUNY Cortland April 12 and 13 for their next SUNYAC three-game series.