The Cortland Crush have settled nicely into their new confines at Wallace Field.
A 5-2 Cortland (13-14) home victory over the Syracuse Salt Cats Thursday evening extended the team’s current winning streak to three games.
Cortland, now 13-14 on the season, is 4-1 at home since moving to the home field of the SUNY Cortland Red Dragons. The Crush already have more wins at Wallace than on Greg’s Field at Beaudry Park, where they posted a 3-5 record this season.
Thursday, Cortland was anchored by a quality performance from the pitching staff. Right-hander Justin Pacheco took the mound for his fourth start of the season and faced a rocky beginning, as he surrendered the lead and walked two batters in a 27-pitch first inning. He quickly settled down and finished the day with two earned runs allowed, four strikeouts and two walks in six and onethird innings. Pacheco said he had a heart-to-heart with himself after his first inning of work.
“I sat myself down and I was like ‘Listen, let’s try to change something up,’”he said.
Pacheco delivered the rotation’s third straight quality start, following up Jordan Christian’s three runs through seven innings in an 8-3 win over he Syracuse Spartans on Independence Day and Brian Wojichowski’s two runs through six in a 9-5 win over the Spartans on July 1.
“We kind of have a set staff now,” Pacheco said. “So we know who is coming up and we have confidence in all of our guys. Everybody just kind of works together as a staff.”
One swing by starting third baseman Hayden Houts tied the game up at 1-1 in the bottom of the second inning. He hit a rocket that eventually landed in the woods behind right field. That longball would be Houts’ only hit of the day in three at-bats.
The Crush had to produce offense without two-hole hitter Dylan Ketch, one of he team’s three NYCBL all-stars, who was out of the lineup after being hit in the jaw by a pitch on Wednesday.
“Everybody knows we have to pick it up for (Ketch),” head coach Bill Mc- Connell said. “Another guy steps in and does his job.”
Alex Flock led the way with a 2-for- 3, two-RBI performance. Flock has been struggling at the plate this season and McConnell said having a player like him start to produce is critical. He noted that hitting instructor and player development director Shawn May noticed something in Flock’s hands and helped him make a change.
“What you’re seeing is Alex Flock hitting like he did in college this year,” McConnell said. “He always has the velocity on impact of the ball, now he’s putting the swings together and trying to relax a little bit more.”
Flock, who has been batting below .200 for most of the season, is batting over .450 with two doubles, three RBIs and three runs scored over his last three games.
This performance has pushed his average to .224 on the season.
McConnell also cited the pitching staff’s role in the game.
Brenden Clanton was brought on in the seventh to pitch the Crush out of a jam. “Tex” got out the inning unscathed, recording a strikeout in his one and one-third innings of work.
He was relieved by another one of the Crush’s all-stars, Max Tannebuam, who came in and shut the door on the Salt Cats in the eighth. Jonathan Triesler pitched the ninth and made quick work of the last three Syracuse batters, getting the three outs on just eight total pitches.
“It all started about 10 days ago,” McConnell said. “We put a little line down and we’ve got consistent starters, we’ve got consistent middle guys and we’ve always had the back-end. The key was getting consistent starts and middle guys. They’re there now.”
Cortland will stay at Wallace for one more game, against the second place Sherrill Silversmiths today at 5 p.m. The Crush sit only two-and-a half games out of the division lead.