The sound of a crack of a bat takes over a green diamond surrounded by brown dirt as Freeman Field is dotted with players. That can only mean one thing: Baseball is in full swing.
Spring is usually time for optimism and expectation. Despite the recent winter wonderland we’ve experienced, there is hope on South Hill for the 9–9 baseball team.
During a recent road trip to Hoboken, New Jersey, the Bombers took two out of three games from Stevens Institute of Technology to kick off Empire 8 Conference play.
Driven by exceptional pitching performances and close games, the Blue and Gold have scraped together a .500 record almost halfway through their season.
Sophomore Tyler Hill and senior Benji Parkes have been key in keeping the Bombers in competitive play this season. Each owns a complete game, the most recent being Parkes’ effort against the Ducks in game two of the doubleheader April 2, in which he gave up four runs on nine hits and struck out six along the way.
Hill’s complete game came during the team’s spring break trip March 14, when he scattered six hits, giving up just one earned run and one walk in the 4–3 over Claremont Mckenna College, Harvey Mudd College and Scripps College, which together form the Stags and Athens baseball team.
Hill owns a 2–5 record with a 4.20 earned run average in seven starts. He’s allowing just a .247 batting average to opponents across 40.2 innings. Parkes is 2–3 with a 4.93 ERA, allowing nine walks and striking out 19 in seven total appearances.
After having to limit the team’s ace — graduate student John Prendergast — because of his recovery from the Tommy John surgery he had last season, in addition to the loss of Andrew Sanders ’15 and Jimmy Wagner ’15 to graduation, the Bombers have needed consistent play from their pitching staff, and that’s what they’ve gotten.
Senior Brandon Diorio and graduate student Ryan Contegni have rounded out a recently dominant staff, each contributing a 6.50 and 5.40 ERA, respectively. Contegni has struck out 10 batters in just 15 innings, including a 5-inning one-run relief appearance in the extra inning win April 3.
The bullpen, consisting of juniors Logan Barer and Jean Germosen as well as freshmen Andrew Bailey and Josh Carney, has been able to preserve and limit the damage in games.
While the Bombers’ bats have come up clutch as of late, the pitching has been the most important thing in allowing the squad to stay in contention.
Given the start of Empire 8 play, the next month’s worth of games becomes crucial for the Bombers if they are hoping to win the conference. The South Hill squad has stayed in there with the likes of the Ducks and St. John Fisher College, but its conference record will be the deciding factor.
Against two nationally ranked teams in SUNY Cortland and SUNY Oswego, the Bombers took the Red Dragons to extra innings and kept the Lakers close for most of the game. After a whopping 22–7 victory over SUNY Oneonta, the Bombers own a 3–5 record out of the Empire 8 Conference, excluding their spring break trip to California.
With rematches against all three squads, coupled with games against SUNY Brockport and the University of Rochester, the Bombers have a shot at making the Division III tournament — even if they do not win the Empire 8 Championship — on the backs of their pitching staff.