Pitching brought the Crush to the NYCBL Championship for the first time in team history. However, it wasn’t there against the Niagara Power in game one.
The Crush pitching staff allowed 15 base hits and allowed nine walks in a 10-6 loss in game one of the finals.
“We didn’t start out string pitching, too many guys on base for free,” head coach Bill McConnell said. “We didn’t play that 100 percent, cohesive game that we normally play.”
Cortland’s bats were better in game one compared to the Eastern Division finals series against the Syracuse Salt Cats. The Crush managed 13 base hits but were unable to really string any of them together to generate offense.
“Last series, the bats were almost non existent so it’s good for us to come out and hit a little bit,” left fielder Alex Flock said. “It gives us a confidence boost that were still here, we can hit.”
After allowing a run in the top of the first, the Crush answered with two of their own in the bottom half of the inning. Garrett Callaghan and Flock led the game off with back-to-back singles to center field.
Callaghan then scored on part of a double steal with Flock ending up at third due to the errant throw of catcher Jack Rubenstein. Flock then touched home plate on Dylan Nolan’s RBI-single.
Both Callaghan and Flock went 3-5 on the day and combined to score five of the teams six runs.
“I didn’t see much off speed today, I’m definitely a fastball hitter so I was really comfortable with them throwing fastballs,” Callaghan said.
The lead was short lived though. The Power struck for four runs in the second inning, highlighted by Noah Almond’s three-run double to make it 5-2.
Niagara expanded the lead to 8-2 in the top of the fifth, thanks to a two-run single from Adam Purdy and a sacrifice fly by Eric Wentz.
Cortland got a pair of runs back in the bottom of the frame on Stephen Bennett’s RBI-single and Nick Pastore’s sacrifice fly, making it 8-4.
The Crush cut the deficit to three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning when Sean O’Malley put a two-out single into right field that brought Nolan home and made it 8-5.
However, that would be as close at the Crush got. The Power added two runs in the top of the eighth, making it 10-5.
Nick Pastore made it 10-6 with an RBI-single to right field that scored Flock.
“Our defense was too lose, particularly behind the plate today,” McConnell said. “To many decisions trying to be heroes.”
All 10 of Niagara’s runs were earned. The Crush allowed only one run in 20 innings to the Salt Cats in the East Division finals.
Cortland will head to Niagara today for game two, and if needed, game three. The Crush will need to win both games if they want to bring the title back to Cortland.
“(Mike) Viveiros is going to tomorrow’s (today’s) game one, he did really well against Niagara the first time we played them,” Flock said. “It’s going to be a long day, 18 innings, and but we’re fully anticipating playing 18 innings. We’re confident, just got to stay within ourselves and play the game we’ve been playing all year long and have had success with and, I think we’ll be just fine.”
Viveiros pitched six innings, allowed two runs on seven hits and struck out a batter in a no-decision on June 17th at Niagara.
First pitch is at 1 pm and game three will start 15 minutes after game two.