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Brockport swept in final chance at postseason

by Carson Werner - Sports Editor
Tue, Apr 30th 2019 03:00 pm
The umpire declares the Rochester Institute of Technology runner safe after sliding head first to the plate and avoiding a diving tag from senior catcher Liam O'Leary.
The umpire declares the Rochester Institute of Technology runner safe after sliding head first to the plate and avoiding a diving tag from senior catcher Liam O'Leary.

In baseball the regular season consists of several opponents with multiple games against each. The two to three game series each offer an opportunity for teams to settle discrepancies over advantages and disadvantages, working as a type of power rankings. Until the final conference series of the year, The College at Brockport baseball team had only been victorious in one series, taking two of three games against Fredonia earlier in the year. Due to its struggles of stringing consecutive wins together, Brockport’s only chance to claim a postseason opportunity was through the number one seed, the Cortland Red Dragons.

Entering the first game against Cortland on Friday, April 26, Brockport’s 6—9 record at the time was good enough for the fourth and final playoff spot. Oneonta was one spot behind Brockport with a record that differed by three extra losses. To clinch the fourth seed, all Brockport needed was two wins against Cortland. One win increased the Golden Eagles’ chances, but would still require help from other teams. However, the task proved to be too much for the Golden Eagles as Cortland structured the playoff bracket itself with a sweep over Brockport. 

The first game would be Brockport’s closest attempt at upsetting the Red Dragons. Cortland grabbed an early lead in the second and relied on some stellar pitching to keep Brockport shut out most of the game. The fourth and fifth inning saw Cortland tack on four runs to increase the lead to 5-0 and remove Brockport’s senior starting pitcher, Alex Brown. In the sixth, Brockport finally made it onto the scoreboard as senior third baseman Lou Miceli and junior outfielder Tom Kretzler used a few pitching mishaps to get two runs across. Cortland scored an insurance run in the eighth and took the first matchup 6-2.

The following day’s doubleheader was postponed a few hours and moved to the University of Rochester because of the poor weather and field conditions in Brockport. Despite the change of environment, Cortland thrashed the green and gold in both bouts, outscoring Brockport 29-7 after 16 innings of play.

In the first game, Brockport opened with six errors in the first two innings, which allowed for seven unearned runs. The only offense Brockport was able to muster up in comparison to Cortland’s hit parade was a home run off the bat of Kretzler in the bottom of the second, his sixth long-ball of the year. The rest of the game was all offense for the Red Dragons, taking the second game by a score of 18-3. 

The second game, which was found to be similar in comparison to the first of the doubleheader, saw the Golden Eagles take its first lead of the weekend. Junior shortstop Aaron Cook drove in two runs on a single as Brockport got to the opposing pitcher early, forcing Cortland to pull its starter after the first half-inning. Junior pitcher Brandon Greenspan had a shutout going until the third inning when Cortland used a combination of hits, errors and walks to score nine runs, only two of them earned. Brockport was unable to climb out of the large, unneeded deficit, even after a two-run homer from Kretzler in the seventh. The final score was left at 11-4. 

Brockport’s biggest downfall in its final games were the plentiful errors, as they matched its run production at nine apiece. Head coach Justin Beach stressed the fact that it takes 27 outs to close out a ballgame and his team struggled with getting outs.

“Cortland is a good team and good teams make you pay for mistakes,” Beach wrote. “In almost every inning that it scored big runs – we gave them more than three outs to work with. Good teams are going to cash in when they have the opportunity.”

Following the conclusion of an athletic collegiate season comes the loss of a team’s graduating seniors. The baseball team will be losing nine seniors, most of whom played infield positions. 

“We still have a nice nucleus of players returning,” Beach said. “We also have some strong recruits coming in next fall that I think can help get us back on top. I am sorry to lose some of our seniors who are great kids and are going to go on to do great things. We are really proud of the men they have become.”

Three of the nine seniors, which included catcher Liam O’Leary and third basemen Anthony Eaton and Miceli, finished among the top six hitters for Brockport. The loss of Miceli may be the most impactful for next year’s team as he led the 2019 squad in batting average, hits and RBIs for the Golden Eagles. Although Miceli’s standout year will not be continued through the postseason, his legacy will last in future seasons.

“I have been preaching to the younger players that every player hits differently, every player pitches differently,” Miceli said. “Understanding what your strengths are on and off the field can go a long way in building your approach defensively and offensively. But in the game of baseball, you have to play for the situation. The situation in the game will dictate what approach you need to take.”

Brockport finishes the year with a record of 15—20 and a conference record of 6—12 as the trend of a few years continues to follow a slight decline.