Spring Rake

Photo by Holly Lipka.

The baseball team has surpassed their win total of seven from last season.

Hawks head coach Matt Righter said he attributes the team’s success to having everyone on the same page.

“Everybody has bought into the mission of our team,” he said. “We have a ‘get the job done mentality’ and that means being relentless in getting that job accomplished. If one person on the team feels they have the trust and support of 26 teammates, that goes a long way. Everybody has really bought into that.”

This occurred during the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational which began on St. Patrick’s Day.

In their first of a string of spring break  games, the Hawks tied Springfield College 12-12 in Winter Haven, Florida in a nonconference matchup.

New Paltz made program history the following morning. For the second time since 1995, the Hawks defeated the defending Div. III national champion No. 1 SUNY Cortland as they took the first of two games 11-2 in a doubleheader.

After five innings, the score was knotted up at two. In the sixth, the Hawks would break open the scoring, playing nine runs in the inning alone.

Hawks second-year pitcher Conor Donachie earned the win on the hill allowing two runs on five hits in five innings. Fourth-year co-captain Tyler Bell knocked in a game-high three RBIs.

The following game saw a 15-4 Cortland victory.

New Paltz took the final game of the series 4-3 the next morning in Leesburg, Florida.

Hawks second-year pitcher Ryan Votypka hurled four and two-thirds innings in relief to help lift New Paltz. As a result of his efforts, Votypka earned SUNYAC Baseball Pitcher of the Week honors for the period ending March 20, announced on March 21 by the conference office.

The win marked the first State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) series that New Paltz has ever won against Cortland and the first SUNYAC series Cortland has lost since losing two of three to SUNY Oswego in 2014.

Righter said the series win was felt throughout the program, including alumni.

“A pretty good indication of what that felt to our team and our program is how many emails, phone calls and text messages I got from alumni,” Righter said. “Our whole program felt the positive effects of that series win. It meant a lot. Our guys felt that they were good enough and could beat anybody.”

For Bell, the victories against Cortland were the greatest moment of his baseball career.

“Being the underdogs and showing the world that we belong on the same field as them was truly a remarkable feeling,” he said. “As a team it shows the guys that we can play with anybody as long as we are in it together.”

With only nonconference games remaining in the Hawks’ trip to Florida, they took an 8-6 win over Knox College in Auburndale, Florida.

The winning streak continued as the Hawks defeated the College of Mount Saint Vincent 8-4 on March 21.

Next they swept a nonconference doubleheader against Hope College on March 22.

First-year pitcher Justin Stybel recorded his first win of the season, going five innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on four hits and striking out three.

The nightcap saw a 4-3 Hawks win.

With an 8-2 loss against Kalamazoo College the next day, a five-game New Paltz winning streak came to a close. This was the Hawks’ ninth game in seven days.

Righter said playing that many games in a short amount of time brings worry about the health of the players, but the Hawks stayed the course. This reminded them of a conference, regional or World Series tournament and that is how they approached it, he said.

After a day off, the Hawks opened their home season with a 13-3 SUNYAC win against SUNY Plattsburgh on March 25. This was the first game played on Loren Campbell Memorial Field since April 26, 2014.

A grand-slam from both second-year right fielder Nick DePietro and third-year co-captain Taylor Anderson in the second and third innings, respectively, would seal the Hawks’ win. Anderson registered six RBIs as he went 3-for-4 on the day.

Both teams played two games the next day. New Paltz won the first game in a 3-0 shutout, before falling 8-4 in game two.

Fourth-year pitcher Christian Huertas tossed seven scoreless innings, allowing four hits and striking out three to earn his second win of the season in game one.

It was announced by the conference office on March 28 that Anderson has been named the SUNYAC Baseball Player of the Week for the period ending March 27.

Anderson, who has a .423 batting average ranks third in the conference. Bell is tenth in the rankings batting .396.

Bell said he feels this year’s team is in a much improved mental state than they have been in past seasons. The team had faced a good amount of adversity with bad weather, or even not having a home field, he said.

The Hawks closed out their four-game homestand as they defeated The College at Old Westbury 7-3 on March 29.

Next up for New Paltz will be a three-game conference road series against No. 13 SUNY Oswego from April 1 to April 2. After that, they will return home to host a nonconference game each against New York University and Lehman College on April 5 and April 6, respectively.

Anderson said the Hawks talked about making a “cultural change” last fall.

“We really focus on relentlessly getting each individual job done, while serving others including our teammates and the community,” he said. “By doing that it creates an inseparable bond between us as brothers, but also keeps us connected to our fan base and the community. With that support we feel we can accomplish anything. We don’t even talk about winning we just focus on the little things one at a time, and we believe everything else will take care of itself.”

About Melissa Kramer 157 Articles
Melissa Kramer is a fourth-year journalism major who lives for sports and music.