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Crush cruise in home debut

Coming home felt good to the Cortland Crush Tuesday night.

A night after falling at Sherrill 7-3 in their New York Collegiate Baseball League season-opener, the Crush celebrated their first game on Greg’s Field with a 16-3 pounding of those same Silversmiths.

Shortstop David Murphy did a week’s worth of hitting, going 5-for-6 with a double, a home run (his second in as many games), five RBIs, five runs scored and a stolen base. Leftfielder Broderick Santilli went 2-for-4 with a two RBIs and three runs scored as the only other Cortland player with multiple hits, nine batters in all with at least one hit on the night.

The Crush used six pitchers in the contest. Right-hander Shae Edmonds got the start and earned the win, allowing four hits and an earned run with one strikeout in three innings of work with a good off-speed repertoire. The most effective of the sextet was right-hander Matthew McCuen, who pitched the ninth inning and struck out all three batters he faced.

“At-bats leading up to yours can help you figure out a pitcher,” the right-handed Murphy said afterwards. “My first at-bat (single to right in the first) I wanted to go the other way, and did it, and the second (single to right-center in the second) was the same.

“Facing different pitchers, you ask questions of teammates who have already faced them and find out what they like to throw on different counts. I knew that their third pitcher was throwing curveballs, saw a hanging curve and put it out of the park. A few good at-bats can lead to a few more,” he added.

“Murphy has a pro bat,” Crush manager Bill McConnell said. “He’s a very solid player. “He’s a leader vocally and by example. He’s probably the best I’ve seen at squaring off on a pitch so often and driving it.

“Shae got his first win of the season and did a good job. Paul Ludden did a good job at catcher of hustling and calling the game. In building this team we focused on hitting and defense, getting players who can do both. We were fortunate to have college coaches who helped us get the players we were trying to recruit It’s good to win the first home game.”

Only four of Cortland’s 16 runs were earned, the Silversmiths making five errors on the night, but manager Jim Hegmann, who is also the pitching coach at SUNY Oneonta, wasn’t about to let his three hurlers off the hook.
“That’s baseball,” he said, shaking his head. “Yesterday we did a much better job of pitching. Tonight our pitchers let the zone dictate how they threw and didn’t attack hitters like they did in the opener. We have a couple of arms coming in, but until then we’ll let starters go deep and hope they can give us lots of innings. Their pitchers did a great job in the zone, kept our hitters off-balance and never let them square up on pitches.

“Our fielders were kicking the ball around, and that can’t happen. As a pitching coach, I have to make sure that our pitchers know about setting their feet when they field the ball.”

Sherrill starter Garrett Woods took the loss giving up five hits and seven runs — none of them earned in three innings with three strikeouts.

The Silversmiths briefly held the lead after scoring an unearned run in the second, rightfielder Mackay Williams reaching on a bloop single to left and eventually scoring on an infield error, one of three miscues by the hosts on the night.

The Crush took control for good with six runs in the bottom of the second. Two errors and a single loaded the bases before first baseman Andrew Taft drew a walk to plate the tying run. Two fielder’s choices resulted in forceouts at home before Santilli walked to bring home another run. Ludden stroked a two-run single to left. A wild pitch made it 5-1 before Murphy capped the outburst with his single to right-center to bring Ludden home.

Centerfielder Luke Gilbert reached on an error and eventually came home on a wild pitch in the third. Two wild pitches by reliever Austin Perry resulted in two more Crush runs in the third. An RBI single by shortstop Danny Crews in the fifth cut the Sherrill deficit to 9-2.

An RBI double by Murphy and an RBI single by rightfielder Derek Martin sandwiched around a passed ball made it 12-2. Sherrill scored its final run in the seventh when Williams was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

The winners closed out the scoring with four runs in the eighth as Santilli lashed an RBI double down the leftfield line and Murphy provided the grand finale by blasting a three-run homer to left-center. McCuen then came on and needed just 15 pitches to strike out the side in the ninth and end the game.

The Crush is off today before visiting the Syracuse Junior Chiefs Thursday at Onondaga CC in a 7 p.m. start. The Junior Chiefs return the visit at 6 p.m. Friday on Greg’s Night, in honor of Crush namesake Greg Partigianoni and sponsored by Tompkins Trust Company. Cortland hosts the expansion Rome Generals Saturday at 3 p.m. before the Capital City Reds from Ottawa. Ont. come to town Sunday for an exhibition doubleheader that also starts at 3 p.m.

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