An explosive offensive performance led the No. 18 ranked baseball team to a 14-2 blowout of No.6 SUNY-Cortland on Monday afternoon at Freeman Field. The win is the Bombers’ sixth straight and their 27th in 29 games.
Junior shortstop Tim Locastro led the Bombers with a 4-4 performance, which included two doubles, an RBI, and four runs scored. The Blue and Gold rallied for 14 hits total in the game.
The Bombers got on the board early, posting three runs in the first and second innings. Locastro said establishing a big lead early helped the team gain confidence throughout the rest of the game.
“When we get out to a six-run lead in the second inning, that’s huge for us,” Locastro said. “It helps us relax in the field and get more calm out there.”
After tacking on another run in the fourth inning, the Bombers posted a six-run fifth inning opening up a huge lead against the Red Dragons. Senior Corey Caswell’s grand slam highlighted the inning, and it was his third homerun of the year.
Head Coach George Valesente said he was happy with the offense, which scored at least one run in five innings.
“We’ve been playing every day, so the guys have been seeing live pitching, and they’ve done a really good job,” Valesente said. “We got some good, level swings and drove the ball the opposite way. We had a great approach and good at bats.”
Cortland scored in the top of the sixth inning and again in the eighth, but the Bombers defense halted every comeback attempt. The defense made several clutch plays, including three double plays and a diving stop by Locastro.
Senior ace Pat Lemmo started the game on the mound for the Bombers and pitched seven innings, holding Cortland to eight hits and two runs while striking out five.
“He’s our go-to guy,” Valesente said of Lemmo. “He has an idea, meaning that he knows what he wants to do and he evaluates weaknesses of hitters and tries to go at them. We depend on him to pitch well and he does.”
Lemmo said that he “pitched backwards” against Cortland because the Red Dragons are a successful fastball-hitting team.
“I started throwing a lot more offspeed pitches in the beginning because they’re a fastball hitting team, and I maybe fooled them with some fastballs later on,” Lemmo said. “That was working really well for me.”
Freshman Zach Pidgeon took over for Lemmo in the eighth inning with runners on first and second and no outs. Pidgeon worked out of the jam with minimal damage. He walked two batters but escaped the inning with just one run scored.
Junior David Jasukonis pitched the ninth inning, and despite loading the bases with no one out, he held the Red Dragons scoreless.
Because Red Dragons and Bombers are the top two teams in the New York State Region, they are likely to meet again in the regional round of the NCAA playoffs. Locastro said if the Bombers play the Red Dragons again, they cannot be overly confident.
“We can’t take them lightly,” Locastro said. “They’re a good team. Next time we play them we have to come out like we did today and hopefully get runs early in the game and put them away early.”