July 3, 2015

Crush sweep up into third

BUNTJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland Crush bunter Matt Alberino advances runners to second and third with a bunt in the sixth inning against the Oneonta Outlaws in the first of two games played at Greg’s Field Thursday.

It’s safe to say that the Cortland Crush will enjoy its day off today just a little but more than usual.
The Crush used some late-game heroics in both games Thursday to sweep the visiting Oneonta Outlaws in a New York Collegiate Baseball League doubleheader on Greg’s Field. After winning the first game 6-2 with four sixth-inning runs, the hosts completed the sweep in bizarre fashion in the nightcap. Down to its last out in the bottom of the seventh, Cortland scored twice on consecutive hit batters to tie the game at 3-3 and then won it in the eighth, again with two outs, on two wild pitches for the 4-3 victory.
The Crush is now 14-12 on the season, in third place in the league’s Eastern Division and just two games behind the first-place Syracuse Salt Cats (15-9). Cortland didn’t score its 14th win of last season until the next-to-last day of the season in the first game of a doubleheader sweep at Sherrill on its way to finishing the 2014 campaign at 15-31.
Cortland 4, Oneonta 3, 8 innings: Third baseman Sean Getman led off the Crush’s seventh inning in the second game with a double to left. Getman went to third on a foul popout before second baseman Terrell Barringer walked to put men on first and third. That chased Outlaws starter David Ehmen in favor of reliever Terry Dugdale, who walked pinch-hitter Grant Hoover to load the bases. After an infield pop fly for the second out, Matthew Grier relieved Dugdale and promptly hit designated hitter Zephan Kash to bring Getman home. Joey Orlando then took the mound and plunked catcher George Haaland to plate Barringer with the tying run.
Current NYCBL Pitcher of the Week Nate Verst took the mound for Cortland in the eighth and retired Oneonta in order to set the stage for the strange finish in the bottom of the frame. Leftfielder Jose Arebalo drew a walk off reliever Mike Diorio and was sacrificed to second by Getman before first baseman Neil McCormack walked to put men on first and second. That brought on Anthony Scaccia, the visitors’ sixth pitcher of the game, to face pinch-hitter Matt Alberino. Scaccia unfurled a pair of wild pitches in his first four throws to bring Arebalo around with the game-winning run.
“I was just waiting for Alberino to hit a fly ball or hard hit ground ball,” Arebalo said. “That was a pretty crazy way to score on the wild pitches to win the game.”
The manner in which the Crush won the game was something of a reversal of the team’s fortune earlier in the season. When the subject was broached, Arebalo smiled and said: “Exactly. We are getting some of the luck now and we are starting to play better. We definitely do play better at home.”
Oneonta took the early lead in the nightcap with two runs in the second on a sacrifice fly to left by shortstop Tyler Martis and an RBI double to left by leftfielder/third baseman Trevor Putzig. Haaland made it a 2-1 game when he smashed his second home run of the season to left field in the fourth, and Oneonta made it 3-1 in the top of the seventh on a bad throw to third on a steal attempt by McClain Bradley.
The Crush managed only six hits in the game, centerfielder Julian Gallup going 2-for-3 while Haaland collected the two RBIs. Second baseman Tyler Bruno went 3-for-4 and scored a run for the Outlaws.
Verst, the hosts’ sixth pitcher of the game, got his first decision of the season with his 1-2-3 eighth after earning his league Pitcher of the Week laurels on two outings with no decision. Teammate T.J. Peterson had won the same award the week before.
“This was not the way I thought I would get my first win, but I loved the situation we were in,” Verst said. “Most people would think I had a lot of pressure on me, but I like those types of situations.
“T.J. is such a nutball. It is such an honor to work so hard alongside guys like T.J. It’s nice being named Pitcher of the Week because of all the support the Crush family had to give.”
“It’s funny because Julian, Zephan and I are always talking about being hit by pitches,” Haaland said. “ It’s all about doing whatever you can to help score runs. It just happened that Zephan and I went back-to-back. It was fun in the long run to have a good team victory, and I was glad to be a part of it.”
As for his homer, Haaland said that “In my first at bat, he threw me a fastball that I lined out to shortstop. I was sitting fastball with a slider in the back of my mind. He hung a slider and I put a good swing on it.”
Cortland 6, Oneonta 2: Starter Yale Brian Hughes allowed Oneonta just three hits in the second game, giving up two earned runs and fanning three batters. Reliever Tyler Saundry earned his first decision of the season, coming on with two on and two outs in the top of the sixth and retiring the four batters he faced to close out the contest.
Oneonta opened the scoring in the fourth as first baseman Zack Blonder led off with a walk and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by designated hitter Hayden Gerlach.
The Crush took the lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth. Rightfielder Luke Gilbert started things off with an infield single and went to second on a groundout, then scored on a single to right by catcher Alex Loberger. At that point, Nate Williams relieved Oneonta starter Patrick Shore and was greeted by a bunt single by Gallup that put men on first and second. Loberger was able to score from second on a passed ball, coming around on the throw to second in an unsuccessful attempt to get Gallup at second.
Centerfielder Taylor Maxey was hit by a Hughes pitch with two outs in the second and later scored on a single to left by Bruno to tie the game at 2-2.
The winners then took control with their four-run sixth. Kash led of with a single to center, Barringer coming on as a pinch-runner as Joey Orlando replaced Williams on the mound for the Outlaws. Arebalo then singled to center to put men on first and second, before each moved up a base on a sacrifice by Alberino. An intentional pass to Gilbert loaded the bases, and Getman then drew a walk to bring Barringer home with what proved to be the winning run.
Arebalo scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Loberger as Gilbert came home on an error on the same play, and Hoover singled to left to plate Getman to account for the final margin.
Gallup went 3-for-4 to start what ended up a 5-for-7 night at the plate for the Crush over the two games and Alberino collected two RBIs.
“It was crazy,” Gallup said of the sweep. “It was pretty intense. The second game really came down to a lot of great calls by our coaching staff. We had a lot of confidence going into the seventh inning to punch across two runs. We got three outs in the top of the eighth as Nate did a great job, as our pitching staff does. We had a lot of faith that we could score a run in the eighth to win it. Jose did that.
“Hit batters are so crucial in a wood bat league like this. You never know how many runs you are going to score. We’ve been pushing that all season and you saw how it came through for us to win these games.”
ELSEWHERE IN the division on Thursday, the Salt Cats beat sixth-place Sherrill 5-2 while the second-place Geneva Red Wings split a doubleheadcer with the fourth-place Syracuse Junior Chiefs,winning the first game 6-2 and losing the second 2-1.
After taking today off, the Crush will host the Red Wings Saturday at 3 p.m. on Greg’s Field and travel to Geneva on Sunday for a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m.

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