AUBURNDALE, FLA. – The SUNY Poly baseball team earned their first two wins of the season on Sunday in their opening double-header at the 2018 Russmatt Baseball Invitational. The Wildcats earned a hard-fought 2-1 win in extra innings in the first game and won the second game 11-8 after fighting back from a 7-2 deficit.
The first game of the season for the Wildcats was a well fought pitchers duel between Brett Flint (Amsterdam, N.Y.) and Joseph Salmen. The two battled for eight innings before being relieved. Neither pitcher earned a decision for their efforts. Flint went 7.1 innings, allowing four hits and striking out nine. Salmen went eight innings tallying 11 strikeouts. The winning pitcher was Wildcat reliever Drew Scharra (Springville, N.Y.) who had five strikeouts in 2.2 innings of work. He allowed just one hit. Emilo Rivera was the losing pitcher. The Sophomore allowed one run on two hits and had to strikeouts.
With two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning with a runner on second, junior Nate Palmer (Marcy, N.Y.) hit a soft line drive up the middle, allowing Bradley Dietz (Phoenix, N.Y.) to cross the plate just a fraction of a second before the tag. The walk off was the first in Palmer's Wildcat Career.
- Nate Palmer went 2-4 in the game with two singles and the game winning RBI.
- Nick LaBella (Utica, N.Y.) had two singles in the game and drove in the first run of the game for the Cats'. LaBella also had a stolen base in the game.
- Noah Vanderbeck (Saugerties, N.Y.) had a hit and a walk on the day in the DH spot.
- Brandon Rossier had the only multi-hit game for the Westminster Titans.
- Frank Cinicola went 1-3 with the Titans lone RBI.
Game two was a polar opposite game for the two teams. The Wildcats took a two run lead in the top of the third, only to give it away in the bottom of the inning. Errors and sloppy play gave Westminster the opportunity to hang a seven spot on the board. To the Wildcats credit, the team did not give in after dropping the ball. The Cats' came right back with two runs in the top of the fourth, and put up a big six run inning in the fifth to take a 10-8 lead. An insurance run in the sixth gave the Cats' an 11-8 lead, and ultimately the win.
Freshman Noah Valvo (Town of Wright, N.Y.) was the winning pitcher in the game. The lefty took over in the third inning and allowed just two hits in 4.1 innings to earn his first career win. Valvo ad two strikeouts and did not issue a walk in the outing. Kyle Kovach was the pitcher of record for the Titans. Kovach pitched just a third of an inning, allowing five runs on two hits and two walks. Only one of his runs allowed was earned.
Trailing by four, the Wildcats strung together a big fifth inning to retake the lead. The Wildcats drew two walks to start the inning. A groundball put two Wildcats in scoring position for Michael Losco (North Babylon, N.Y.) who drove in the first run of the inning with a single. A fielders choice and a throwing error would score two Wildcats on the very next play before a big double by Nick LaBella drove in the tying run. After a pitching change and a walk, Dean Natalizio (Greenville, N.Y.) lined a ball over the second baseman and into the gap in right-center to give SUNY Poly the lead that would ultimately hold-up.
- Nick LaBella went 2-4 with two RBIs and a double in the game.
- Michael Losco had a game high three hits. He went 3-3 in the game with two RBIs and two runs scored.
- Dean Natalizio had two RBIs in the game and went 1-4.
- Seth Vanderbeck (Saugerties, N.Y.) and Dalton Earl (Woodhull, N.Y.) both hit doubles in the Wildcat win.
- Vincent Morelli was the only player with multiple hits for Westminster.
- Joseph Salmen went 0-1 with three walks for the Titans.
The Wildcats will face Nebraska Wesleyan on Monday. The Wildcats and the Prairie Wolves will play a double header at Polk State College in the 2018 Russmatt Invitational. The first game is scheduled for a 9:30 AM start. The second game will follow at 11:30 AM. Both games will have an audio broadcast available on the WildcatTV live coverage portal.