Cortland found itself down by multiple runs in each game of Saturday’s games in the Crush’s opening season double header against Mansfield. The Crush fought back both times but couldn’t pull out a win in either game.
Cortland fell 9-7 in game one and 7-6 in game two against the Mansfield Destroyers. The doubleheader was the season opening series for the Crush and first at the new Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex.
The Crush fought back in both games, putting together seventh inning rally’s in each contest. “I think overall our team has got a lot of fight and tenacity,” Crush lead-off hitter Stephen Bennett said, “for it being the first week together, we’re starting to form a bound that’s going to be able to help us carry on into the postseason.”
How it happened: Game 1
Game one was a back and forth contest throughout.
The Crush scored a run in the first inning for the third straight game. Bennett led the bottom of the first off with a single and came around to score on Brandon Shirley’s base hit to make it 1-0 Crush. Mansfield responded with a pair of runs of its own in the top of the second to take a 2-1 lead.
Cortland tied the game up in the bottom half of the frame. Bennett smacked a two-out double to put a runner in scoring position and was driven in by Alex Flock on a single tot left that made it 2-2.
The Destroyers made it 4-2 in the fourth when Blake Murray smashed a two-run home run over the left field wall.
The margin was cut to one in the bottom of the inning when Bennett smacked his third base hit of the game into left field that scored Jack Lynch, making it 4-3. “I was just seeing the ball well, yesterday I had a good approach at the plate, I was seeing it well yesterday, and it just carried over today,” Bennett said, who went 3-5 with a double and an RBI, “Back at school I’m usually a four or five hitter, it’s a little different getting the pitch sequences then I have been, more fastballs and less off speed, after hitting lead-off in both games today they definitely started changing their pitching patterns, so I had to adjust.”
Mansfield pulled away in the top of he seventh, plating five runs to distance itself.
Cortland fought back in the bottom of the frame, stringing together four base hits to begin the inning and cutting the margin to 9-7.
However, the Crush rally fell short and Mansfield took game one.
Mike Viveiros started the game on the mound for Cortland and went four innings, allowing four runs, but only three earned, on four hits while striking out four.
The Crush totaled 11 base hits in the contest. Flock went 3-3 with an RBI and a walk while Shirley finished 2-4 and two RBI’s.
In game two, Cortland found itself down three runs on two occasions.
Down 3-0 after the second inning, the Crush mounted a comeback. After cutting the margin to 3-1 in the bottom of the second inning on Henry Strmecki’s ground ball that scored Brad Nowak, Cortland made it a one run game in the fourth.
Nowak, for the second straight at bat, singled to lead-off the inning. Sean O’Malley followed that up with a single of his own, putting runners on first and second. Garrett Bell then slapped a base hit into right field, bringing home Nowak to make it 3-2.
“Leading off my whole goal was to not hit home runs, just get a bat on a ball and try to make it to first especially with the bats behind me,” Nowak said.
Starting pitcher Charlie Hammel started the game off shaky but was lock down for most of the game and allowed the Crush offense to come back. Hammel retired eight of the last nine batters he faced and allowed only two earned runs over five innings.
“It was the first time throwing live off the mound in probably three weeks,” Hammel said, “took me that first inning to kind of settle in there, but after that I felt nice and relaxed and settled in.”
The Crush grabbed the lead from Mansfield in the fifth. Flock led the frame off with a walk and then took second on a passed ball. Kam Holland then came to the plate and launched a double into right field that brought Flock home and tied the game at 3-3.
O’Malley gave the Crush the lead two batters later, ripping a base hit into center field that scored Holland and made it 4-3. It was O’Malley’s third base hit of the game.
However, Mansfield rallied and scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a 7-4 lead.
Cortland nearly came back, as the team scored two runs on walks from Hayden Houts and Garrett Callaghan. The bases were loaded for Lynch with two outs, but he flew out to deep right field to end the game.
The Crush combined for 10 base hits, including a 2-4 night from Nowak and a 3-3 night from O’Malley.
What’s next for the Crush
The Crush have Sunday off after playing four games in three days. Cortland then takes the field on Monday night when the Crush host the Rome Generals at 6:30pm. The Crush bested Rome 13-8 in Rome on Friday.
Monday will be Macaroni Monday at Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex as the Doghouse concession stand will be serving Macaroni and cheese from Anderson’s Farm Market.