(Canton, N.Y.)- The SUNY Canton baseball team literally used a walk-off play in the bottom of the seventh inning to capture a 2-1 win over Briarcliffe College Friday afternoon in the team’s home opening doubleheader in Canton. The Bulldogs, ranked ninth in the latest USCAA Coaches Poll, earned the split with a 5-2 win in the second game.
Both teams struggled to get their bats warmed on Friday as they battled cold conditions with temperatures hovering around 40 degrees all day. But it felt much colder as brisk winds blew throughout the afternoon. The Roos and Bulldogs combined for just seven hits in game one, three for SUNY Canton and four for Briarcliffe. But nifty base running and patience at the plate allowed the Roos to come away with the win.
The game remained scoreless for the first 3 ½ innings, before the Roos got on the board with a single run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Freshman Kevin Hill (Deerfield Beach, Fla.) led off the stanza with a single to right field. Freshman Cody Ploughman (Barrie, Ontario) came on to pinch run and promptly stole second base. Junior Nick Belile (Norwood, N.Y.) pushed Ploughman to third base with a single to left field. Senior Mike Zelyez (B rasher Falls, N.Y.) came on to pinch run for Belile, and then teamed up with Ploughman to pull off a double steal with Ploughman crossing home plate giving the Roos a 1-0 lead.
SUNY Canton had another chance to score in the fifth inning when freshman Eddy Morel (Lake Worth, Fla.) reached safely after being hit by a pitch, and then advance all the way to third on a Briarcliffe error. But the Bulldogs got the next two SUNY Canton batters to strike out and ground out and end the threat.
Sophomore Travis Legacy (Malone, N.Y.) pitched five solid shutout innings with one strikeout, before giving way to junior Alex LaFountain (Keesville, N.Y.), who earned the win after Briarcliffe tied the game in the top of the seventh off an RBI-double from Daniel Farina. LaFountain (2-1) allowed one run on one hit with one strikeout in two innings.
In the bottom half of the seventh inning, the Roos fell behind with two quick outs. Morel then singled to left field, sophomore Chris Jones (Deerfield Beach, Fla.) walked, and senior Gerardo Torres (Theresa, N.Y.) reached first on an error to load the bases. Junior Jordan Hunneyman (Redwood, N.Y.) then drew a walk on four straight pitches to bring Morel home with the game-winning run.
In game two, the Roos fell into a 3-0 hole after the Bulldogs posted three runs in the top of the third inning.
SUNY Canton came back and trimmed the lead to a single run with two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Hunneyman led off with a single to right field and moved to second base when senior Tom Darling (Oswego, N.Y.) drew a walk. Freshman Braden Giffin (Lake Worth, Fla.) moved those two a base with a well-placed sacrifice bunt. Hunneyman then scored and Darling moved to third making it a 3-1 game when sophomore Luis Ramirez (Gurabo, Puerto) reached first on an error by Briarcliffe’s pitcher. Darling and Ramirez then combined on another double steal to score another run and close the gap to 3-2. Morel then flew out to right field to end the inning.
SUNY Canton put the tying run on third base in both the fifth and sixth innings, but the Bulldogs were able to escape each jam and hold onto their one-run lead. Briarcliffe then posted two runs in the top of the seventh off an RBI-single down the left field line from Anthony Mele to stretch their lead to 5-2, and then closed out the game retiring the final three SUNY Canton batters in the bottom of the final inning.
Sophomore James Amelotte (Cornwall, Ontario) had 10 strikeouts and allowed seven hits and two walks in seven innings in the nightcap for SUNY Canton.
John Sicignano earned the win for Briarcliffe as he scattered three hits over five innings with two strikeouts and Mele finished with four RBIs.
The two teams square off again on Saturday with another doubleheader starting at 12 p.m. in Canton.