BY MICHAEL KNAUFF
CORTLANDVILLE – With one week left in the regular season, the Cortland Crush needed only one more win the clinch a spot in the New York Collegiate Baseball League postseason.
That’s exactly what the Crush did in Monday’s outing against the Syracuse Spartans. The Crush rode a strong pitching performance from Ryan Reicoff and aggressive base running to win 4-1.
Cortland stole eight bases on the day, leading directly to two runs.
“Create chaos and take the opportunities,” Cortland head coach Bill McConnell said. “It’s like a hedge fund, you got to take the risk. When you see opportunities and you get the counts you want and people in the right places, you’ve got to take it.”
The Crush sit at 23-12-1 and have a five-point lead now over Syracuse Salt Cats for first in the NYCBL East Division.
Reicoff got off to a tough start in what was his first start of the season. He allowed runners to reach second and third with no outs to start the first inning. However, Reicoff retired the next three batters in a row and escaped the jam.
“I was excited for the chance,” Reicoff said. “I had confidence in my pitches. I had my teammates behind me. I wasn’t really that worried about it. I just needed to make the pitches.”
Reicoff faced another jam in the top of the fourth inning. With no outs and runners on first and third, the Crush starter again worked out of it and kept the Spartans off the board.
Cortland snagged the lead in the bottom of the fourth. Alex Flock led the frame off with an infield single and stole second. Garrett Callaghan slapped a base hit to centerfield, bringing Flock home and making it 1-0 Crush. Callaghan finished the day 3-for-4 with two RBI’s.
“It’s always big to get on the board first,” Callaghan said. “It gives you the momentum, puts the other team down a bit and gives you a chance to capitalize.”
After the Spartans tied it at 1-1 in the top of the fifth, the Crush bullpen shut down the Spartans offense the rest of the way. Dominick Spinoso went two and one third innings, allowing just one run. Jonathan Treiseler pitched a scoreless inning and two-thirds while Garrett Bell threw a one-two-three ninth inning to get the save.
“I think every pitcher on our team has worked very hard with (pitching coach) Ryan Stevens and Justin Valentino in the bullpen,” McConnell said.
Callaghan gave the Crush back the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Nick Pastore began things with a one-out single to right field and stole second. Callaghan singled to centerfield and brought Pastore home for a 2-1 advantage.
Aggressive base running by Callaghan led to another run. Callaghan took off to steal third and the throw from Spartans catcher Max Gebauer hit the left foot of Callaghan and rolled into left field. That allowed Callaghan to score and make it 3-1.
Cortland added another run in the eighth inning. With Stephen Bennett on third and Flock on first, McConnell called a double steal. Flock took off for second and while the throw went to the bag, Bennett went home and scored to push the score to 4-1.
The Crush finished the game with seven base hits. Flock went 2-for-4 while Pastore and Jack Lynch each had singles.
Cortland hosts the Syracuse Salt Cats Tuesday in a battle of the top two teams in the East Division. First pitch is 6 p.m. at Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex.
“Huge win because it distances us between them (Spartans),” McConnell said. “Now we have two very difficult games against the team behind us.”