By JAKE HITT
SYRACUSE — All things must come to an end. A journey for a championship, halted. A summer coming to an end, soon to give way to fall.
The Cortland Crush’s 2018 New York Collegiate Baseball League season came to an end Thursday afternoon after a 10-3 loss at the hands of the Onondaga Flames in the Eastern Division championship series .
Cortland found itself in not just an early hole but rather a ditch at Onondaga CC as the Flames jumped out to a commanding 8-0 lead in the first inning of play.
The first three Onondaga batters reached base courtesy of walks by Cortland starter Brian Wojichowski. Cleanup hitter Collin Mathews then doubled to score Jack Chernow and Michael Netzel.
A wild pitch would bring home A.J. DiFillipo, and Mathews then scored on an RBI single by Mike Steffan to make it a 4-0 game. A third straight Flames hit would put Adam Gordon on base.
A walk to the nine-hole hitter McClain O’Connor would chase Wojichowski. in favor of Curtis Wilk. Onondaga would score four more runs off Wilk before the inning ended.
Wojichowski would finish the day with two thirds of an inning pitched, four walks, no strikeouts and seven earned runs on three hits. Wilk would record one more out before Ben Mack relieved him in the second inning.
According to pitching coach Tyler Mattoon, Wojichowski said before the game he had a great deal of confidence in how he was going to pitch.
“I saw him throw two great strikes to go up 0-2 on the first guy,” Mack said of Wojichowski. “After that, I thought ‘Here we go, he’s going to deal.’”
Mack came in for two thirds of an inning in relief of Wilk. He’d pitch out of a jam and recorded one strikeout in his final appearance of the year.
Michael Viveiros would have the longest appearance for the Crush as he would keep the Flames in check for five and one third innings with only one run allowed on seven hits and a strikeout.
Duff Steve and Jake Rajsigl would finish out the game for the Crush.
Cortland had several opportunities to chip away at the Flames lead, their best chance coming in the fourth inning.
Dylan Ketch led off the inning with a triple and Nelson Laviosa brought him home on a single to make the score 9-2. Alex Flock would then promptly reach on a single as well.
With Zach Kelley at the plate, Nelson Laviosa ended up being caught stealing at second base. Already down in the count, Kelley would strike out on the next pitch and Tyler McKeon would ground out to first to end an inning that could have held a potential rally.
McKeon agreed that the fourth inning was effectively the nail in the coffin for the Crush.
Several players would come to sub in for the remainder of the game, including Hayden Houts, Nick Palma, Alex Babcock, Ben Horsfall, Jack Volpe and Justin Valentino.
The most impressive performance for Crush batters on theday was by team captain Dylan Ketch, who finished 3-for-3 with two runs scored.
Ketch noted that he was just trying to see the ball low and drive it for contact.
Collin Mathews impressed for the Flames with a 2-for-5 performance with three RBIs, two runs scored and two doubles. Onondaga advances to a matchup with the Olean Oilers in the NYCBL championship series. The first game will be played at 6 p.m. today in Olean, with the second and, if necessary, third games Saturday at Onondaga.
The loss officially ends the summer for the Crush and dropped the team’s all-time playoff record to 2-7.
Many players reflected on their times with the team and the growth they recognized in the team and in themselves.
Tyler McKeon said he’s going to take what he learned and the confidence he gained to be more of a leader for his team at St. Anselm College.
“It was like Coach Mac (Bill McConnell) said us to in the huddle, ‘Don’t cry because it’s over, but smile because it happened,’” Mack said.