MARCY, N.Y. – The SUNY Poly Baseball Team (16-15, 11-3 NEAC) lost a close one to Penn College in the opening game of the NEAC Tournament (which SUNY Poly is hosting as the overall #1 seed in the conference), dropping the 9-inning affair by a score of 3-2.
For the second straight weekend, NEAC All-Conference 1st Team pitchers Jeff Albright (New York Mills, N.Y. / New York Mills) and Ryan Hostrander squared off against each other. And for the second straight weekend, Wildcat hurler Albright pitched tremendously. Unfortunately for Albright and the home Wildcats, Hostrander was just a little bit better this time around, going the distance while striking out 6 and walking only 1 to earn the 3-2 victory.
Albright, for his part, was excellent. The senior lefty went 7 and 2/3 innings, giving up just 3 runs while striking out 3.
As he had done all season, Albright showed plenty of mental toughness on the hill. Despite surrendering a run right from the start in the top of the 1st inning, Albright settled down and blanked Penn College 5 out of the next 6 innings, allowing two runs in the top of the 4th.
Andrew Scharra (East Concord, N.Y. / Springville) threw an inning and a third of scoreless relief for the Wildcats to finish the game.
Both teams played well in the field, with each team's outfielders in particular making a number of outstanding plays on deep fly balls in the gap.
Down 3-1, the Wildcats mounted a two-out rally in the bottom of the 8th after a two base error by the Penn College shortstop resulted in a runner in scoring position. Tyler Vyce (Waterford, N.Y. / Shenendehowa) was then hit by a pitch, bringing senior catcher and team co-captain Anthony Ragosta (Troy, N.Y. / Troy) to the plate.
Ragosta took the first pitch for a strike, then went the other way with the next pitch, ripping a grounder between the first and second basemen to score the pinch runner Maykell Guzman (East Hampton, N.Y. / East Hampton) from second.
Ragosta was one of the few offensive bright spots for the Wildcats, going 2-for-3 with an RBI. Joseph O'Rourke (Camden, N.Y. / Camden) drove in SUNY Poly's only other run with a sacrifice fly in the first, which scored Josh Rodriguez (Syracuse, N.Y. / Cicero-North Syracuse), who had doubled earlier in the frame.
With the tying run now on second, Penn College shortstop Noah Esposito redeemed his error earlier in the inning by making an excellent charging play on a slow-roller, throwing on the run to beat the Wildcat hitter by a step and end the threat.
It would be the home team's last real opportunity, as Hostrander regained his composure to shut down the Wildcats 1-2-3 in the 9th.
The #4 seed Penn College will now take on #2 Penn St.-Abington, who defeated #3 Penn State Berks 9 in Friday's later game. They will square off tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 9 am.
As for SUNY Poly, the Wildcats now enter the loser's bracket and will take on Penn State Berks tomorrow at noon in the tournament's first elimination game. NEAC Pitcher of the Year Joseph Redmond (Stone Ridge, N.Y. / Rondout Valley) is the projected starting pitcher for the Wildcats.
Live stats and video will be available for all games tomorrow – check the SUNY Poly schedule page in the morning for links.