Friday, January 15, 2021

Cardinals find flaws during opening Florida trip

The Plattsburgh State baseball team went outside its usual territory and trekked south for spring training. The players experienced numerous changes throughout their travels, the most predominant of them being climate, but the team chemistry also took a turn for the better.

For most travelers, a spring break road trip to Florida consists of lying out by the beach and soaking up the sun, but for the Cardinals, this trip was all business. They were able to show their dominance in the SUNYAC conference by capturing two victories against a strong Fredonia team. The Cards dropped the first of the three-game series against Fredonia State due to a lack of experience in their relief pitchers.

“There are a lot of young guys in the bullpen for us this year,” senior pitcher Mike Vargues said. “In that first game, I think the fact that it was a conference game added a little more pressure for our younger guys.”

Fortunately, the Cards were able to get right back on track the following two games. The bats came alive for PSUC in the second game with the squad batting an impressive .444. One of the most impactful hits came off of the bat of senior catcher Frank Buksa, who muscled out a two-out, three-run home run to tie the game 4-4.

The tie eventually tilted in the favor of the Cards with a final score of 5-4. The team went on to win the third game of the series 6-5, resulting in a 2-1 series victory. Although the players were excited about the wins over their conference opponents, members of the team said the trip itself was also a big win for the team.

“As a team, it was an amazing experience,” senior outfielder Nick Lupo said. “Over my past four years here, this has been the closest team that I have ever been on. We grew close, battled every day, played tough games against great opposition and, most importantly, took the series from Fredonia.”

Lupo said this trip was a great learning tool for the newcomers of the team. He said the younger guys were able to learn more about SUNYAC competition, and the team as a whole learned what they need to improve on as the season progresses.

One of the major flaws of the team was the lack of experience from the bullpen. The new arms of the team were not sure what to expect from collegiate competition, but some underclassmen were able to come up big this past week.

“Some of the first-year players, especially, really stepped up for us,” junior pitcher Andrew Kramer said. “Sean Howard had two great starts on the mound, which was really positive to see.”

The experience the younger players on this team received goes way beyond the confinements of the field, though. Lupo, a veteran to the SUNYAC conference, said he had a lot to offer the new guys.

“You have to learn how to be resilient,” Lupo said. “We played around 10 games in Florida in a short amount of time out there in the heat, and you have to learn how to be mentally tough. We have to pride ourselves in battling through adversity and show the younger guys that you can’t take any conference game lightly.”

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