WASHINGTON – Thankfully for the frayed nerves of the SUNYIT Baseball Team's parents, the Wildcats didn't wait for the 11th inning to push a run across in their second game of the day. In fact, they barely waited for the first pitch, hanging 3 runs in the first inning and 4 more again in the third on their way to a comparatively serene 9-4 victory. The Wildcats will now have Saturday off before appearing in Sunday's Championship Game.
Coaches always say that in order to win championships, your best players generally have to play like it in big games. Boy did they ever on Friday. After Redmond and Dungey's performance in the first game, Kevin Rowlands (New York Mills, N.Y. / Notre Dame) was passed the baton in game two. The 1st-Team All-Conference cleanup hitter took it and ran, posting an incredible 5-for-5 performance against the Nittany Lions.
He started his day off with a bang, sending a 2-out offering from Nittany Lion starter Ryan Tantala over the left field wall for a no-doubter 2-run homer. He finished the day with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored to lead SUNYIT.
Rowlands would go on to finish the day a triple shy of hitting for the cycle, with all five of his hits coming on line drives.
SUNYIT struck again in the top of the 3rd inning, recording 4 runs on 4 hits. Joseph O'Rourke (Camden, N.Y. / Camden) – who also had a big day with 3 hits – led off the inning with a single, quickly followed by Rowlands's second hit of the day. Connor Passalacqua (Whitestown, N.Y. / Whitesboro) then singled home O'Rourke, and a batter later first baseman Gerald Milanes (Brooklyn, N.Y. / Santa Rosa de Lima H.S.) doubled to left-field, scoring Rowlands.
The cushion proved plenty for game two starter Jeff Albright (New Hartford, N.Y. / New Hartford). Albright, who has been up-and-down at times this season, was in command on Friday afternoon.
The big lefthander held the Nittany Lions scoreless through the first 5 innings, then did a masterful job of pitching out of trouble in both the 6th and 8th innings, getting out of each situation with only 1 run allowed. In the 8th, Albright loaded the bases with nobody out, but battled out of it in large part due to a clutch 5-4-3 double play to end the inning. Ryan Wegner (Rochester, N.Y. / Brockport) started the play with a great feed to Jim Sass (Kingston, N.Y. / Kingston), whose expert turn ended the threat and brought the SUNYIT bench to its feet.
Albright went 8 innings on the day, surrendering just 3 hits and 2 runs.
Each of the other three teams in the tournament now have one loss. The Wildcats will wait to see who emerges from that group to face them in the championship on Sunday.