Through the first two games of the season, the Cortland Crush offense can best be described as opportunistic. That was on full display Friday night.
The Crush scored six unearned runs on the road against the Rome Generals, who committed five errors in the game, and used timely hitting to pick up the teams first win of the season 13-8. Cortland also drew a staggering 13 walks in the game.
Third baseman Stephen Bennett, who hit lead-off tonight, lead the Crush at the plate, going 1-2 with two RBI’s and three walks while MaxFlock drove in two runs.
“I wanted to get on base for my teammates to drive me in, I think that was a big thing for us tonight with myself and Alex Flock behind me,” Bennett said. “We were both able to get on base which lead to our three-four hitters being able to drove us in.”
How it happened
For the second straight game, the Crush jumped out to an early lead. Bennett and Flock began the inning by drawing a walk and being hit by a pitch to put the lea off batters on base.
Hayden Houts then laid down a bunt, but the throw to first from the Generals catcher was errant and allowed both Bennett and Flock to score, giving the Crush a 2-0 lead.
Cortland added another run in the frame when Houts scored during a rundown with Nick Pastore on the base paths, making it 3-0.
After a Rome run in the bottom of the first, the Crush continued to build their lead. Bennett drove in his first run of the season in the second when his single brought Jonathan Triesler home and made it 4-1 Cortland.
The Crush exploded for four runs in the third inning. The onslaught began when Garrett Callaghan scored on a wild pitch. After back to back walks by Triesler and Kam Holland, Pastore also scored on a wild pitch, making it 6-1 Crush.
Jack Lynch made it 8-1, slapping a single that scored Triesler and Holland.
Lynch had a strong night at the plate, going 2-4 with two RBI’s while also drawing a walk.
On the mound, Cortland starting pitcher Zach Kemp gave the Crush another string start on the hill. Kemp, who attends Wells College, went six strong innings, allowing only one run on one hit.
“Just trying to throw strikes when I went in there, not trying to overthrow anything and just get them out,” Kemp said.
Kemp used his fastball and change up to navigate the Generals offense and limit their production. “He’s matured a lot over the year,” pitching coach Ryan Stevens said, “I’ve coached him a few times over the years and he’s slowly developed his maturity and can handle almost any situation.”
“I just knew my defense has my back,” Kemp said.
Cortland added a pair of runs in the seventh to make it 10-1. Four consecutive walks to start the inning lead to Drew Boli scoring. A batter later, Bennett drove in his second run of the game by hitting a sacrifice fly that scored Ryan Foody.
Those two insurance runs would prove to be necessary.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Rome offense found its rhythm. The Generals erupted for seven runs in the frame, cutting the Crush lead to 10-8. The inning was highlighted by Jack Kingmans RBI double, Matthew Morawitz’s two-run double and Weidner Wilfong’s single that scored a pair.
Cortland was able to hold off the Generals over the game’s final two innings. The Crush added three extra runs in the top of the ninth, thanks to Flock’s two-run single and Sean O’Malley’s ground ball to short that resulted in an error, allowing Bennett to score.
The Crush were able to hold onto their 13-8 lead in the bottom of the ninth, as the Generals left the bases loaded to end the game.
In total, the Crush recorded nine base hits on the night. Houts went 2-3 at the plate while Kam Holland, Pastore and Triesler also had base hits.
Player of the game
Stephen Bennett is tonight’s player of the game. The third baseman from Canisius College reached base four times and drove in a pair of runs. He also played lock down defense at the hot corner, recording eight assists on the night.
“Coach Mac put me in the lead-off spot tonight and I knew I was going to be able to get fastball’s early in counts,” Bennett said, “he (Rome starting pitcher Jake Good) was mostly fastballs, a lot to me away.
I just wanted to stay with my approach to take what he was throwing, just hitting it away, take it up the middle or to right-center. When he did leave one in over the middle part of the plate I was able to drive it over the shortstops head.”
Upcoming for the Crush
Cortland will play its home opener on Saturday at the brand new Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex. The Crush will open the day with J.M. McDonald Sports Complex providing bounce houses for pregame entertainment at 12:30pm.
First pitch for the doubleheader against the Mansfield Destroyers will be at 3 pm, with game two scheduled to start at 5 pm.
“I’m pretty excited about it, hopefully we can go out there and get the win,” Max Flock said.