Junior Andrew Wall proved this afternoon why he’s come a long way since his first two seasons as a member of the baseball team.
In his first two seasons, Wall only pitched seven varsity innings, allowing 14 hits, five earned runs and sporting a 6.43 ERA. But today in a 10–2 win against Cazenovia University at Freeman Field, he went a strong seven innings, allowing only two earned runs and three walks, while striking out eight and throwing 111 pitches.
A big part to Wall’s success against the Wildcats was his ability to get ahead of opposing hitters.
“I’ve been struggling the past couple of games so I focused on just going out there and trying to get ahead,” he said. “And then once I got ahead, I’m then in control of the situation. I make sure [I’m] leaving things low so they’re either popping it up or rolling up ground balls. I’ve been leaving a lot of things middle of the plate and I’ve been getting hit pretty hard so for the most part just going out and staying ahead.”
In four starts this season for Wall, he’s thrown in 22 innings, allowing only 10 earned runs and striking out 19. While Head Coach George Valesente said he’s been inconsistent at times, he is definitely improving.
“He’s developed more maturity and more confidence on the mound,” he said. “There were times [in previous seasons] things didn’t go well, when he got uptight and didn’t control his emotions and things would break down even further. So this year he’s able to control his emotions a lot more. He’s got more confidence and stand out there on the mound like he’s the boss, not like he’s just out there hoping to survive.”
The most spectacular part of Wall’s outing against the Wildcats came in his final inning when he was in one of his few jams of the day.
Up 5–1 with one out, Cazenovia shortstop Steve True and left fielder Josh Tucker drew back-to-back walks. Then, on Wall’s second wild pitch of the inning, True and Tucker were able to advance to third and second, respectively.
At this point, two Bombers were up in the bullpen and Valesente and senior catcher Mike Armstrong kept trying to buy time for the relievers by constantly having meetings at the mound.
After a sacrifice fly from infielder Chris Fantacone scored True to make it 5–2, Wall was able to get out of the inning by getting designated hitter Brandon Goodman to fly out to sophomore center fielder Mike Rosenbaum.
“I needed to make sure I was staying confident [and] staying loose and then just focusing on getting ahead and keeping the ball low,” Wall said. “And then if they did hit it, they’re going to roll something up. If not, it was hopefully going to be in my favor.”
The Blue and Gold scored half of their 10 runs in the first three innings, scoring one in the first and two in both the second and third to go up 5–1.
“This is kind of like a team like Utica [College] where they’re not having much success this year, so this was one of those games where we wanted to get out early, score runs early and often and kind of burry them early on,” junior third baseman David Ahonen, who went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and one RBI, said.
Later in the game, the South Hill squad scored two in the seventh and three in the eighth. Having a good day at the plate for the Bombers, along with Ahonen, was junior first baseman Trevor Wolf, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs and scoring one run. Though Cazenovia was careless in the field with five errors, Ithaca did out hit the Wildcats seven to four.
Freshmen Ian Gaule and Jasper Adams relieved Wall by each pitching a scoreless inning in the eighth and ninth, respectively.
Even in a blowout win, Valesente said he knows his now 10–11 Bombers played weaker competition in Cazenovia. As a stickler of perfection, he still sees areas where his team can improve. The Bombers next game is at 4 p.m. Thursday as they travel to SUNY-New Paltz.
“We need to get better offensively and more consistency offensively,” Valesente said. “We don’t really go out and punish teams and score 15 runs when we should. And we had some defensive breakdowns again today as well. So what I’m looking for is if we can get solid pitching performances day in and day out … the rest will take care of itself. You can’t depend on having good hitting every day. … So I can just hope if we can get solid pitching and play steady defense we should be OK from that standpoint.”