LAKELAND, FL. – The SUNYIT Baseball Team (3-4, 0-0 NEAC) swept the Trailblazers of MCLA on Thursday, hanging on for a 6-5 win in the morning game before rallying in extra innings for a 9-5 afternoon win.
GAME 1: SUNYIT 6, MCLA 5
In game one the Wildcats rallied back from a 3-0 deficit, scoring four runs in the bottom of the 4th inning and adding another two in the bottom of the 5th before surviving a scare from the Trailblazers in the top of the seventh and taking the win, 6-5.
Jeff Albright (New York Mills, N.Y. / New York Mills) went 6 and 2/3 innings to pick up his first win of the season. The big lefty had a workmanlike performance, scattering 5 runs while striking out 7. Only two of Albright's runs on the game were earned.
Albright was relieved by everyday second baseman and team captain Jim Sass (Kingston, N.Y. / Kingston), who came in with two on and two out in the top of the 7th. Sass induced a groundball to short (6-4) to preserve the one run lead and secure a victory for SUNYIT.
Sass had a banner day, as in addition to picking up his first career save, the senior went 2-for-4 at the plate with 2 RBI's and 2 runs scored. Sass's bases-loaded single in the bottom of the 4th gave SUNYIT its first run of the game, and opened the floodgates in what turned out to be a 4-run inning and a difference-maker in the game.
Joining Sass with two hits on the day were outfielder Kevin Rowlands (New York Mills, N.Y. / Notre Dame), who stayed hot with a 2-for-3 performance that included an RBI, and third baseman Rafael Ramirez (College Point, N.Y. / H.S. For Construction Trades), who made the most of a spot-start by going 2-for-2 with a run scored. Also coming up big for the 'Cats was Ryan Dungey (Vernon, N.Y. / VVS H.S.), whose 2-run single in the bottom of the 4th with the bases-loaded tied the game at the time.
GAME 2: SUNYIT 9, MCLA 5
The final score of the afternoon tilt hid an exceedingly exciting game, as despite the gaudy final both teams were scoreless through the first 6 innings.
SUNYIT pitcher Joseph Redmond (Stone Ridge, N.Y. / Rondout Valley H.S.) followed his spectacular debut on Sunday (7 IP, 0 runs, 10 K's) with another stellar outing, extending his scoreless-innings-pitched streak to 13 before things got hairy in the 7th. Redmond would finish the game with 7 strikeouts and 1 walk, allowing 3 earned runs in 6 and 2/3 innings of work.
With the score tied at 0-0, the visiting Wildcats hung four runs on the Trailblazers in the top of the 7th. Even more impressive, all 4 SUNYIT runs came with 2 outs. The big hit came from the bat of none other than Kevin Rowlands, who drove a single to the outfield with the bases loaded, scoring Raymond Smith (Staten Island, N.Y. / Tottenville H.S.) and Nicholas Giunta (Rexford, N.Y. / Shenendehowa H.S.). Freshman lefty Tyler Vyce (Waterford, N.Y. / Shenendehowa H.S.) then delivered a big single of his own to score another run, and Rowlands scored SUNYIT's final run in the seventh on a wild pitch.
With Redmond cruising and all the momentum resting firmly in the Wildcat dugout, the bottom of the 7th appeared to be all but academic. But Redmond led off the frame by plunking Trailblazer right fielder Cody Weaver, then giving up a single to first baseman Sean Coyle.
Redmond settled down to get the next two batters, but was pulled after hitting another batter to load the bases. Sass took over again as he'd done in the first game, but this time couldn't hold the lead, walking in a run before surrendering 2 straight singles to plate the tying runs.
Despite the setback, the Wildcat bats had evidently been awoken in the 7th, and they would show no signs of drowsiness as SUNYIT headed into extra innings. SUNYIT made two quick outs, but just as had happened to both teams in the 7th inning, getting to two outs proved to be no safeguard for the Trailblazers. With two gone and nobody on base, Dante Rose (Utica, N.Y. / Notre Dame H.S.) singled and then stole second. Rose advanced to third on a wild pitch, which proved crucial as Sass then walked and was allowed to take second base on defensive indifference. With runners on second and third, Nick Giunta delivered the biggest hit of his young career, singling home Rose to give SUNYIT a lead and extend the inning. After a walk, the deck was then loaded for the Rowlands, who came through with a two-out triple to clear the bases. Rowlands finished the day with a whopping 5 RBI's, and would go on to sport a .429 batting average and 13 RBI's at week's end.
Thankfully for the Wildcats, the fireworks came to an end in the bottom of the 8th, as Vyce came on to close the door for SUNYIT, giving up 1 run on 1 hit to secure a 9-5 victory for SUNYIT.