November 29, 2021

Crush winning streak hits five

By MICHAEL KNAUFF
Contributing Writer

The Cortland Crush picked up a pair of NYCBL wins on Wednesday and Thursday over the Syracuse Salt Cats and the Sherrill Silversmiths, respectively.

The Crush defeated the host Salt Cats 6-3 on Wednesday and visiting Sherrill 7-5 on Thursday.

Dylan Nolan led the Crush to their fourth win of the year over the Salt Cats oN Wednesday, going 2-for-4 with two RBI’s and a double. Nolan began the game with an RBI single to give the Crush a 1-0 lead.

“It’s a big thing to do, to make a statement in the first inning,” he said.

The Salt Cats answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame against Cortland starting pitcher Zach Kemp. However, Kemp settled in after his shaky first and proceeded to allow no runs over the next four innings while the Crush retook the lead.

Cortland tied the game in the third. Nolan walked with two outs and then scored on Nick Pastore’s double to make it 2-2. It was Pastore’s fifth double of the season and his 13th RBI.

Alex Flock gave the Crush the lead again in the top of the fifth. Jack Lynch singled to lead off the frame and Flock then smacked his NYCBL-best 32nd hit, a double that brought Lynch home and made it 3-2.

“I’ve been seeing a lot of offspeed stuff, especially early in the count, the past few weeks,” Flock said.

Nolan followed Flock’s double with one of his own, giving him 15 RBIs for the year and the Crush a 4-2 lead.

Syracuse tightened the game to 4-3 in the bottom of the sixth on Jake Packer’s RBI single.

The Crush immediately answered in the top of the seventh. Stephen Bennett led the inning off with a ground-rule double and then scored on Flock’s single to make it 5-3.

Flock finished the game 2-for-4 with the double and three RBI’s and drew a walk as well. He is now hitting .418 on the season, has 33 base hits and has driven in 23 runs.

Pastore came up clutch for the Crush in the bottom of the seventh. With a runner on second and two outs, the Salt Cats’ Marshal Winn singled to center field. Patrick Minor rounded third and was trying to make it a one run game, but Pastore didn’t let that happen. The all-star center fielder fired a laser to the plate and threw out Minor to end the inning and keep it a two-run game.

“I love those moments, it gets our whole team into the game,” Pastore said. “You throw someone out, it’s a big momentum change.”

The Crush tacked on another insurance run in the eighth when Flock drew a walk with the bases loaded to make it 6-3.

Cregg Scherrer pitched the final two innings, allowing no runs or hits, to record his fourth save of the season.

CORTLAND ENTERED Thursday’s game against the Silversmiths on a four-game winning streak. The Crush extended it to five, improving to 15-9-1 on the season.

“After a pretty big win last night, a pretty emotional win,” first baseman Sean O’Malley said. “It’s always to tough to come back and play a good game and win, but I think we accomplished that tonight and we never stopped battling. That’s the heart of this team.”

The Crush exploded for four first-inning runs to take the early lead. After Bennett and Flock drew lead-off walks, O’Malley ripped a single to center to score both runners and make it 2-0. Brad Nowak the singled to left field, and an outfield error allowed O’Malley to score, making it 3-0. Drew Boli made it 4-0 with an RBI single to center that scored Nowak.

Sherrill (7-17-1) got to Crush starter Jared Strait and was able to tie the game 4-4 in the top of the fourth inning, Strait allowed four runs on eight hits while striking out two.

However, the tie was short-lived. Boli led off the bottom of the fourth inning by ripping a high line drive over the left field wall for a solo home run. His first homer of the season made it 5-4 for the Crush.

“I’m just trying to use the whole field, trying to get pitches I can use early on in the count,” Boli said.

The hosts added another run in the sixth inning when Bennett blasted a two-out triple to right-center to score Kam Holland and make it 6-4. Cieszko added an insurance run in the seventh, singling to right field to score Brendan May.

Scherrer, who was selected to the NYCBL all-star team as a closer, finished the game on the mound for the Crush in the ninth to secure the win.

“I really like the role (as a closer), I’ve always kind of had that mentality in me,” Scherrer said.

The Crush are still in second place in the NYCBL East division, two points behind the Syracuse Salt Cats. Cortland has now won 12 of its last 15 games, including five in a row.

“The Crush are hot, that’s all I can say to that,” Scherrer noted.

The Crush visit Sherrill today for a doubleheader at Noyes Park, the first pitch set for 2 p.m. The two teams meet on the same field on Sunday at 2 p.m. after Cortland gets Saturday off.