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Club baseball becomes Butler County Classic champions

by Carson Werner - Sports Editor
Tue, Oct 2nd 2018 10:00 pm
The Brockport club baseball team defeated Central Connecticut to win the Butler County Classic in Pennsylvania. The team has played five other games outside of the tournament and has a record of 3—2.
The Brockport club baseball team defeated Central Connecticut to win the Butler County Classic in Pennsylvania. The team has played five other games outside of the tournament and has a record of 3—2.
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The Division I Brockport Club Baseball team started out its year by claiming a tournament victory over Central Connecticut on Sunday, Sept. 23. The club faced four tough teams, but with solid pitching and a productive offense the team pulled out of the weekend with four hard-fought wins. 

The first matchup was against the annually ranked Ohio University, a Division I opponent who defeated Brockport last year in Florida, 11-3. Brockport was led by senior catcher, Dan Fratianni, who went 2-3 with two RBI’s at the plate. Behind him was senior, Ryan Johnson, who drove in one off a hit. Brantley Marion, a first year junior on the team, pitched six innings, limiting Ohio to three hits and striking out seven. In the 7th inning, Brockport up 3-1, put in Ed Ryan, a sophomore pitcher, to finish the game. Ryan gave up one run and loaded the bases with three walks, putting Brockport in a difficult situation. Owen Maley, a junior flamethrower and Brockport’s incumbent closer, came in and gassed it by two straight to kick off the Golden Eagles’ weekend with a bang. 

Brockport didn’t bother looking back as the team cruised through the rest of the tournament, slashing through opponents and proving themselves to be a Division I competitor. 

Next game, a few hours later, was against the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Bailey Cross, a sophomore first baseman and pitcher, dealt three RBI’s off two hits at the dish. President of the club, David Fendrich, started at second base and drove in two runs as well. Ryan, redeemed himself from his first appearance and pitched seven full innings, allowing seven hits and three runs, striking out five. The game, tied at three, went into extra innings where sophomore, John Baron was shut down after two innings due to darkness. The next morning, a quick continental breakfast propelled the squad to hammering four runs at its first plate appearance, quickly ending IUP’s hopes of winning. 

The next matchup featured another team who had its way with the Green and Gold last spring. Cleveland State beat Brockport 8-5 in Plant City, Florida during spring break last season. It must’ve been the southern heat that troubled the Golden Eagles, as this meeting in Pennsylvania featured a 10-2 Brockport victory over Cleveland State. 

Starting senior pitcher, Pete Ravesi struck out three in six innings of two hit ball, only giving up two runs. Will Caster, a sophomore third baseman, went 2-4 with two RBI’s and Johnson got on base twice, including a solo home run to add to his repertoire. 

“I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform well at the plate,” Johnson said. “Every at bat for me is my most important at bat because I feel like in that dugout, I have a lot of people depending on me, and the last thing I want to do is let them down. I just try to go out there, make a hit, throw up the “X”, and make some noise.”

The team entered the championship game undefeated and on fire. Brockport’s explosive offense found its way into the game but was unneeded due to a spectacular pitching performance by the new arm, Bill Witzigman. The righty dealt six no-hit innings up until Connecticut’s leadoff batter singled in the top of the seventh. Backing his performance were two outfielders, sophomore, Bart Bookmiller and senior, Ryan Callaghan who both collected two hits and a run batted in. Fratianni also drove in two runs en route to a 6-0 championship victory over Central Connecticut.

Witzigman, had enrolled into Brockport and joined the club team after graduating from Mohawk Valley Community College, where he played for its varsity team. As a pitcher adjusting to a new team, it takes time to become comfortable with the players he has to rely on. However, Witzigman was content with who he had behind him.

“No worry at all; confident,” Witzigman said in regards to his offensive and defensive support.

Brockport’s club baseball team was moved up to the Division I level after having years of success and making national appearances in Division II tournaments. The team has struggled in recent years because it has been matched up against the top club teams in the nation. However, this fall has been nothing but optimistic for the squad. 

“We have a big goal in mind for sure and that’s to win the World Series,” Fendrich said. “We’ve come close to beating some of these big schools in recent years. Penn State is our rival, who won the World Series last year against ECU (East Carolina University). We have confidence that we can beat them, but we have a really long way to go if we want to compete with them.” 

Could this be Brockport’s year to make a statement at the Division I level? The team is filled with newcomers yet has its fair dose of veterans. It has the experience and has shown the potential to win, but Brockport’s true test will be in the spring where Pittsburgh and Penn State await the Golden Eagles.