After falling to SUNY-Cortland 8–3 on April 1 in Cortland, N.Y., the baseball team redeemed itself by shutting out the No. 16 Red Dragons 8–0 today in front of its home crowd.
“We just played the way we should’ve played at their place,” senior centerfield Matt Samela. “We got great pitching, we had timely hitting, people came through for us when they needed to and our defense was solid the whole game.”
While Ithaca’s rivalry with Cortland stems from football, Samela, who is also a cornerback for the football team said it has taken off in nearly every sport the two teams face each other in.
“It’s a big rivalry in every sport we have — it carries over,” Samela said. “We might not have as many fans as the Cortaca Jug but it’s still a big game for us.”
The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the fourth when junior right fielder T.J. Abone led off with a double and sophomore left fielder Rob Zappia followed with a double to take a 1–0 lead.
“At first I thought Coach was going to have me bunt with a guy on second with no outs, but he looked at me and I could just tell he had confidence in me,” Zappia said. “With two strikes I was looking for anything just to slap it the other way and find a pitch I could hit and drive.”
The Bombers added two more runs in the inning to go up 3–0 and they never looked back as eight of the Blue and Gold’s starters got hits in the game and seven different Bombers scored at least one run.
“We had a lot of big hits today from guys all the way up and down the lineup,” senior captain Alan Kartholl said. “A lot of guys contributed and stepped up in a big spot.”
While the South Hill squad’s offense took fire, the pitching staff quietly pitched a six-hit shutout.
Junior righthander Tom Fishback improved to 5–3 in four innings of relief work. He allowed one hit and struck out five to earn the victory. Senior Pete MacDaniel, sophomore Aaron Sapp and freshman Tucker Healy combined with Fishback for the shutout.
The win stretched the Bombers to win streak to seven games, their second best of the season, but Samela said most of the athletes do not even think about the win streak.
“I don’t even think kids on the team worry about the win streak,” Samela said. “We’re just playing right now and that’s the way it should be and that’s the way it’s going to keep going. Hopefully there will be more games like this.”
Kartholl said the Bombers hope to take this momentum from the second half of the season into the postseason
The South Hill squad continues its home stand at 1 p.m. Saturday in the first two games of a back-to-back doubleheader against St. John Fisher College.