WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – The SUNY Poly Baseball Team (4-6) finished their spring trip on a high note, taking a pair of high-scoring affairs off of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA). The Wildcats downed the Trailblazers 10-8 and 10-7 to improve to 4-6 on the year.
The Wildcats scored early in both games. In the first, they took a 2-1 lead on a pair of scores in the bottom of the 1st inning, which included an RBI triple by Joseph O'Rourke (Camden, N.Y. / Camden).
O'Rourke had a flawless day, finishing 3-for-3 with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored.
After striking again in the 3rd and 4th innings, the Wildcats held a 5-1 advantage heading into the bottom of the 5th inning. That was due in large part to the deft pitching of Sawyer Haney (Cooperstown, N.Y. / Cooperstown). The sophomore righty scattered 6 hits over 5 innings of work, surrendering just one run in the top of the first while striking out 2.
Still, the Wildcats went back to work in the bottom of the 5th, hanging 5 runs on the Trailblazers to take a commanding 10-1 lead. The inning included a 2-RBI single by rookie Josh Rodriguez (Syracuse, N.Y. / Cicero-North Syracuse). The freshman finished the day 2-for-4 with a team-high 3 RBI while occupying the 2-spot in the lineup.
Giving testament to the old baseball adage that a team can never have "enough" runs, the big 5th inning would prove crucial for the Wildcats. The Trailblazers exploded for 7 runs in the top of the 6th inning on 7 hits. MCLA was aided by a bases-clearing 3 RBI double from third baseman Rory Slattery.
Finally, Wildcat ace Joseph Redmond (Stone Ridge, N.Y. / Rondout Valley) came in to stop the bleeding. The big righty got the last out of the 6th inning and threw a scoreless 7th to pick up his first save of the year, going 1 and 1/3 innings with no hits and a strikeout.
Haney picked up the win to improve to 1-0 on the year, while starter Robert Jutras took the loss for MCLA. In addition to O'Rourke and Rodriguez, second baseman Ryan Kelly (Williston, N.Y. / Mineola) had a good day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.
In the nightcap, the Wildcat bats once again wasted no time. Batting first as the visiting team, SUNY Poly hung 2 runs on the board right out of the gate, as Rodriguez tripled home leadoff batter Ray Smith (Staten Island, N.Y. / Tottenville), before scoring himself on an RBI groundout by Gerald Milanes (Brooklyn, N.Y. / Santa Rosa de Lima).
The Wildcats added another 3 runs in the top of the 2nd thanks to a 2-RBI single by Kelly, who scored later in the inning on a wild pitch.
SUNY Poly continued to add to their lead, scoring a single run in the 3rd, and two apiece in the 5th and 6th innings.
Once again the Wildcats had to withstand a late push by the Trailblazers, who pushed 3 runs across in the bottom of the 7th to pull within 3, down 10-7. It was as close as they would come, however, as once again Redmond came on to pick up the save. Redmond came on just for the final out of the game, a strikeout.
Rodriguez finished off a giant double-header by going 2-for-3 with 3 RBI. In addition to his first-inning triple, the third baseman hit a 2-run homer in the top of the 6th.
Jeff Albright (New York Mills, N.Y. / New York Mills) picked up the win for the Wildcats, going 5-strong for the win. The senior lefty pitched a veteran game, spreading 3 runs over 3 different innings while striking out 3 and walking 2.
The Wildcats are scheduled to play a home doubleheader against Mount Saint Mary on Saturday, March 21st, however fans are advised to stay tuned to a possible schedule change due to the late winter.