By Monica D’Ippolito
NEW PALTZ — A historic 2023 season for the State University of New York at New Paltz came to an end Saturday on day three of the SUNYAC Championships at Mary Gray Deane Field.
The hosting Hawks were ahead for most of the game and held a 3-0 lead entering the bottom of the sixth before Geneseo stemmed a four-run rally to earn the 4-3 victory to move forward, while SUNY New Paltz’s pursuit of its first conference title fell just short.
Despite the loss, the program set new marks as a team and proved themselves as one of the best in the region finishing with a record of 31-13 — the most ever in program history — while also landing the top seed in the tournament and hosting on their home field for the first time ever.
Jackie Rometo kicked off the day with a lead-off double that curled down the left field line getting behind the Knights outfield with Rometo legging out a spot at third. Sydney Bonewit found herself on first following a throwing error by the pitcher to keep runners on the corners with no outs, before Jillian Shelbourne stepped up to rip an RBI single to left, bringing Rometo home and giving the Hawks a 1-0 advantage.
However, SUNY New Paltz couldn’t pile on. A strikeout on the next at-bat got the first out of the inning before Jaycee Filancia loaded the bases on a single, but Kelly Marmorowski hit into a double play as the Knights stepped on the plate then first to get both force outs to end the threat.
The Hawks added another in the third. Juliet Bernstein got plunked in the back to put a runner on with two outs before Filancia was hit by a pitch as well. Marmorowski stepped back up to the plate and made the most out of the opportunity this time, tailing an RBI single to right, scoring Bernstein and creating a 2-0 cushion.
Lindsay Roman, worked herself out of a jam to keep the shutout in the fifth for SUNY New Paltz. On the first at-bat, Roman made a play for the ball, but slipped as she delivered the throw to first, which went high that allowed a runner in scoring position with no outs. The Knights followed with a single, but Roman continued grinding and earned a strikeout looking, before flying out the next batter for the second out. Roman was in a battle against Geneseo’s Iris Kahris in the box and after a long 10 pitch at-bat, Roman won the dual getting Kahris to line out and strand two runners to keep the Knights off the board.
After Geneseo earned the first out of the sixth, Isabella Shepherd came in to pinch hit for Lauren Serrao and the junior made the most out of the opportunity as she ripped a triple to right — her second of the season — putting the Hawks in prime position to add on. Rhionna Bianchini then laid down a perfectly placed bunt to bring Shepherd home, while hustling down the line to a no-throw at first to earn herself a base hit. With Rometo at the plate, SUNY New Paltz tried getting another runner in scoring position, but Bianchini was thrown out on the attempted steal for the second out. Rometo then followed with her second triple of the day, but all for not, as the Knights earned a fly out to end the threat.
The bottom of the sixth started on a six-pitch walk with Roman just missing on a full count to put one runner aboard with no outs. Geneseo brought the run home on a triple that tailed deep to right center field and added another with a hard liner that was just out of the reach of Serrao’s glove at second to trim the score, 3-2.
Sydney Waldon came in to relieve Roman and forced a slow grounder back at her, but the throw to first went high allowing another run to score and putting a Knight on third with no outs. Waldon gritted through and forced a pop up to left for the first out with SUNY New Paltz narrowly getting the second out of the inning on a steal by Geneseo. Emmie Mae Cabrera riffled a throw to third with Bianchini seemingly making the tag before the runner touched the bag, but the tight call went the way of the Knights who kept the go-ahead run on third on the steal. Geneseo took advantage with a sacrifice fly that scored the runner to give themselves a 4-3 lead with Waldon getting out of the inning on a strikeout.
The Hawks offense couldn’t stem a rally with Shelbourne getting thrown out after a soft grounder on a check swing back to first. Bernstein then grounded out to first for the second out with Filancia grounding out to short to end the game.
Rometo finished 2-for-3 with a run, followed by Shelbourne who went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Roman ended the day giving up just five hits, two earned runs, one walk with a strike out in five innings of work. Roman, Rometo and Bonewit all earned a spot on the All-Tournament team.
Geneseo went on to play Buffalo State in the doubleheader and won, 1-0 to capture their third-straight title.
For SUNY New Paltz, it returns the bulk of its roster graduating pitcher Jillian Harrison and Bernstein who both were vital in bringing the team to their most successful season yet.