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By Jake Carapella
ONEONTA – Unique circumstances forced a change of venue for Saturday afternoon’s doubleheader between the State University of New York at New Paltz baseball team and SUNY Cortland, as the games were moved to the campus of SUNY Oneonta on what was supposed to be Senior Day for the Hawks in front of their home fans. It was a difficult day for SUNY New Paltz, who had trouble slowing down a potent Red Dragon offense, who finished the regular year at 30-10, in both games, losing 18-3 and 12-3.
“Today we faced one of the best teams in the country,” said Hawks head coach Thomas Seay. “In game one, we struggled with pitches early. Credit to Cortland for taking advantage, giving themselves opportunities to score.”
After giving up two walks and a single to begin the top of the third, Bobby Ramsey was pulled in favor of Nick Zangara, who has been good this season in relief. Zangara, however, ran into issues with this lineup, hitting shortstop Ben Rhodes, scoring Franzese. Two batters later, Andrew Michalski hit a bases-clearing double to bring home Rhodes, Mat Bruno, and Matthew Krafft to swell the lead to 10-0.
The Red Dragons added an additional run in the fourth when Varian led off the inning with a double and later scored on a sacrifice fly from Krafft to make the score 11-0.
The Hawks got on the board in the fifth, doing nice work off reliever Justin Patsey with two outs. Nick Harvey got things going with a single, and Joe Patane, the next batter, walked. A catcher’s interference with Michael Boccarossa up at the plate loaded the bases for Dean Stalzer, who was also walked, giving SUNY New Paltz their first run. Jordan Rios then stepped up and hit a two-RBI single.
SUNY Cortland went on a big scoring run in the sixth, beginning first when a single from Adam Mieczkowski drove home Chris Bonacci, and Dylan Mackenzie singled in Zachary Kringdon. The 14th run came when Bruno hit an RBI single, scoring Mieczkowski. Dylan Tierney hit a two-RBI single through the left side, giving his team a 13-run lead at 16-3.
Anthony Pericolosi brought home their 17th run with an RBI single and Luke Schartner scored on a groundout by Mitchell Kelly for their 18th. Scott Wagner got Kringdon to pop up and end what was a seven-run inning for the Red Dragons.
Despite the Hawks dropping the game by a 15-run margin, Rios put together a nice hitting display, going 2-for-4 with two RBI. For SUNY Cortland, second baseman Andrew Michalski went 2-for-4, including a double, with three RBI.
Coleman started the scoring off in game two, continuing where left off in game one, hitting an RBI single that scored Antonio Pragana to make the score 1-0. Both sides went quiet until the fourth inning, when the Red Dragons struck again. Varian hit a two-RBI single to left center field, after which Dominic Schuch was replaced on the mound by James McGovern. Facing the new pitcher, Coleman again connected, hitting an RBI double into right field for his team’s fourth run, while Bruno, despite grounding out to third base, brought Varian home to score.
Trailing 5-0, Rios got the Hawks closer in the fourth, with his second two-RBI hit of the day, this one a double into left center field, the second hit for SUNY New Paltz to that point in the game.
Any chance the Hawks had of keeping that three run margin were quelled in SUNY Cortland’s next time at the plate as they took a 7-2 lead after Michalski hit a sacrifice fly that scored Krafft, and Scott Giordano tripled down the line in left field.
Like they had in the previous game, the Red Dragons produced a scoring flurry in the sixth inning. James McGovern gave up a double to Coleman to lead the inning off, who advanced to third on a Bruno sacrifice. After Franzese was intentionally walked, he proceeded to steal second, and Krafft hit an RBI single into center field. Despite Connor Olson coming on to pitch for McGovern, the momentum continued, as Rhodes hit an RBI single into right field, Krafft scored on a sacrifice fly from Pragana, and Giordano hit a two-RBI double down the line in right field for his third RBI of the game, putting the Red Dragons ahead 12-2.
With the loss, the season for SUNY New Paltz drew to a close with a 14-22 record. Despite ending the season losing seven consecutive games, Seay’s group had an impressive stretch of five straight wins from April 15-22, which included games of 10 runs scored, 18 runs, and 12 runs. The team dealt with five postponements and four cancellations, and season ending injuries to Jesse Keshner, Justin Ortiz and Adam Webber.
The Hawks are bringing back Boccarossa for 2023, one of their top hitters from this season, and Bobby Ramsey, but will lose pitchers Wagner, Bernard, and designated hitter Keshner.
“The end of the season is always tough,” said Seay to sum up the year. “It’s the last time the team will be together as a unit, but the relationships are the silver lining, the buses, the hotels. It was nice to have a legitimate, real, first class baseball season and that’s important. We’ll evaluate what we have to do recruiting and attack next season.”