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Baseball shows flashes of greatness between two losses

Tom Kretzler throws a pitch during the 2019 season. (Photo credit: Sam Cherubin via Flickr)
by Carson Werner – Staff Writer

The coming of spring paves the way for the return of baseball, but it’s never a smooth process. Soggy earth and freezing temperatures tend to put a damper on scheduled functions, especially in upstate New York. In an attempt to avoid unpredictable weather, The College at Brockport baseball team looks for out-of-state games to fill in the early portion of its schedule. With game cancellations, imperfect playing conditions and long bus rides, the start to a baseball season can have multiple outside factors affecting a team’s performance.

Sitting with a 2—5 record, the Golden Eagles are undoubtedly ready for warmer weather and a freshly groomed Clark V. Whited baseball field.

Following a weekend of canceled outings against Kean University and Bard College, Brockport returned to the diamond at Purchase College for a doubleheader on Saturday, March 7. The next day featured a two-and-a-half hour bus ride for a nine-inning showdown at Scranton University. 

Of the three games played, Brockport dropped the two that came after a bit of traveling. Purchase hung on to win game one of the doubleheader 10-6 following a four-run seventh by the Golden Eagles. Brockport dropped its game against Scranton 6-1 after the Golden Eagles held a 1-0 lead. It was game number two against Purchase that gave a glimpse to what Brockport baseball has in store. 

As opposed to the game hours before, the Golden Eagles secured an early 3-0 lead over the Panthers by the second inning. Following a double and stolen base, senior outfielder Tom Kretzler became the first run of the day when junior outfielder Nicholas Pastore drove him in on a sacrifice fly. Brockport’s lead increased in the second on a double from sophomore infielder Justin Pangburn and a sacrifice fly from Kretzler. 

From that point on, Brockport’s offense never looked back. The squad collected nine hits through six innings before exploding for seven runs on four hits and a few errors in the seventh. Leading the charge was sophomore infielder Ryan Voight, who finished with five RBIs and a run on three hits in four plate appearances. Kretzler followed with three RBIs and four runs on two doubles, a single and a walk. 

Despite dropping two games, Voight contributed a large chunk of the offense going 8-12 with seven RBIs, four doubles and two stolen bases. Kretzler also strung together a fantastic weekend, going 6-11 with four RBIs and five runs. He also threw four innings of shutout ball against Scranton and struck out six batters in the process. 

Behind the two, sophomore infielder James Houlahan is currently third on the team in hits (10) and second in batting average (.435). Taking on the role as the leadoff hitter, the Westchester Community College transfer finished the weekend with five hits, two RBIs and a run. 

“I am very comfortable in the leadoff spot,” Houlahan said. “In that spot, my job is to start the fire and pass the torch to the next guy. It’s also very reassuring knowing I have teammates behind me that will move me over and score me when I reach base, or pick me up and get us rolling if I don’t reach base.” 

Taking care of business on the mound was junior pitcher Andrew Huffman, a transfer student from SUNY Ulster. In his second start of the spring he threw five innings, struck out seven and allowed three runs on six hits. Up 5-3, Huffman was given the victory when he was replaced in the sixth inning. Sophomore pitcher Adam Douglas closed out the final two innings and struck out three while giving up two hits. 

“It feels great to get my first win here at Brockport,” Huffman said. “I have to give my teammates a lot of credit for how they played on Saturday. When they play the way they did, my job is the easy part.”

The 6’2” flamethrower will be a vital addition to an experienced pitching staff. With a 4-seam fastball, 2-seam fastball, changeup and curveball in his repertoire, he’s been dicing up hitters in his first two starts as a Golden Eagle. Through 10.2 innings of work, Huffman has set down 15 batters himself. Last season, he struck out 49 over 31.1 innings for Ulster. 

“Looking at our offense and defense, I believe that we have guys with a lot of talent that are willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win,” Huffman said. “The energy that my teammates have brought to the games when I’ve been on the mound has been unreal. The energy, in combination with the skill that we have on our team, allows me to just go out there and compete, knowing that they have my back.”  

Brockport will travel to Florida for its annual Spring Training trip to compete in the RussMatt Invitational. There, the squad will play single games against Rutgers-Newark and McDaniel College and doubleheaders against Mount Saint Mary College and the University of Maine-Farmington. Later in the week, the Golden Eagles will meet SUNY Cortland in Lexington, South Carolina, to close out their trip. 

“Heading into spring training we are focused on piecing together a full game,” Houlahan said. “Sound defense, dominant pitching, timely hitting and aggressive, but intelligent, base running are our focuses.”

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