October 21, 2021

Red-hot Crush keep winning ways going

The Cortland Crush entered Tuesday’s NYCBL game with the visiting Syracuse Spartans having won nine of their last 12 games, and riding high off a big win over the Syracuse Salt Cats on Monday.

The Crush picked up right where they left against the Spartans, dominating at the plate and on the mound to win 8-1.

“Out of the three summer ball teams that I’ve been on in the past three years, this team especially, we come together as team, we’re just a well-bonding team and I think that’s what contributes to a lot of our success,” starting pitcher
Brandon Shirley said.

Shirley had another solid performance on the mound in his third start of the season. He went six full innings, allowing only one run on four hits while striking out five and walking only two.

“Today I was feeling lose and ready to go, I was anxious for this start with all-star nominations coming up,” Shirley said.

The Crush offense provided plenty of run support. Drew Boli gave Cortland, now 13-9-1 on the season, a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second, hitting a single to center field that scored Garrett Callaghan. It was Boli’s fourth RBI in two games.

Nick Pastore made it 2-0 an inning later, driving in Andrew Gough with a single. Callaghan then hit a sacrifice fly to left field that allowed Stephen Bennett to score and make it 3-0.

“Hitting is contagious,” Gough said. “When you see a guy rip one, you just want to keep it going.” Gough made his first start of the season for the Crush at shortstop, going 1-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored.

Alex Flock further extended the Crush lead in the fifth, crushing his third home run of the season over the right field wall to make it 4-0.

“The dude was changeup dominant, and I knew I was going to see it at some point in the at-bat,” Flock said. “I finally got to two strikes, which is a good changeup count, and he threw it right where it needed to be.”

Flock had the best day at the plate for the Crush, going 2-for-4 with his homer, a two-run double and three RBIs.

“This group is really talented, all it takes is one guy to get us going,” Flock said.

The Spartans (12-12) scratched a run in the top of the sixth, but the Crush answered quickly.

After Bennett was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded and Alex Babcock scored on a wild pick off attempt to make it 6-1, Flock belted his double to right field to score Gough and Bennett, making it 8-1.

The combination of Ben Mack and Ridge Walker pitched scoreless seventh, eighth and ninth innings to wrap up the win for Cortland. The win brought the Crush within four points of the Salt Cats for first place in the Eastern Division, as the Salt Cats lost to Rome on Tuesday night.

Cortland vists the Salt Cats today at 7 p.m. The Crush expect the game to have a lot of intensity.

“We’re hungry against the Salt Cats from the past game,” Shirley said of a chippy Crush home win on Monday night. “It got a little bit out of hand, a little unprofessional, but we’re ready for it.”

Cortland returns home on Thursday for an Independence Day clash with the Sherrill Silversmiths, the first pitch set for 6 p.m. It will be Strike Out ALS day at Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex.

The Crush is well-represented on the NYCBL All-Star team which will take on the ACBL all-stars Monday at Yogi Berra Stadium in Montclair, N.J. Shirley, Flock, Bennett and Pastore are all on the elite squad, along with pitcher Cregg Scherrer, catcher Dylan Nolan and infielder Jack Lynch.