The Plattsburgh State baseball team will be returning to its conference schedule when the Cardinals play at SUNY New Paltz today and Saturday after ending their losing streak with an 11-4 victory over St. Lawrence University Wednesday.
PSUC (7-14, 1-8) will take on New Paltz (9-11, 1-1) today at 3 p.m. before playing a doubleheader at 12 p.m. Saturday. Given the team’s poor record in conference play, PSUC head coach Kris Doorey acknowledged the importance of this weekend’s games for the Cards’ playoff hopes.
“It’s important for us,” Doorey said. “We have to find a way to win all three games. Well, we don’t have to win all three games, but life would be a lot easier if we did.”
Doorey noted forecasted weather in New Paltz of over 70 degrees as an advantage for PSUC as it is easier and more fun to play baseball in warmer temperatures.
Doorey will focus on pitching and offensive strategies to prepare the Cards for Saturday.
“We have to pitch the ball better,” Doorey said. “We have to execute offensively. We have to bunt, steal, hit and run. We have to play that style of baseball.”
Doorey also aims for PSUC to get good offensive innings, play solid defense and carry-out good pitching.
The Cards demonstrated effective defensive and offensive strategies in Wednesday’s match against St. Lawrence (2-15), holding a 7-0 lead until the fifth inning.
“We ran the bases well today,” Doorey said post-game. “We haven’t done that in a couple of weeks.”
One instance of this occurred in the bottom of the seventh inning, when PSUC sophomore Keller Kowalowski entered the game as a pinch hitter and hit an inside-the-park home run.
Kowalowski spoke of his surprise when he saw Doorey signaling him to home plate as he rounded third base.
“I didn’t even think he was sending me [home] honestly,” Kowalowski said. “I just saw him waving me home, and I was shocked, but I just kept running.”
Returning from injury, Kowalowski scored the run in his first at bat since March 17. Doorey said that Kowalowski asked for the opportunity to bat despite having no batting practice in over two weeks.
“I was pretty nervous,” Kowalowski said. “I haven’t played since Florida.”
While Kowalowski scored the only home run of Wednesday’s game, PSUC junior Jon Craft was the true star for the Cards’ offense. Craft was perfect at the plate, recording hits in each of his four at bats.
“It feels great,” Craft said. “Especially after yesterday, I was struggling at the plate and struggling with keeping my hands back on the off-speed pitches. That was one of my main focuses today.”
Craft also prioritized staying loose and relaxed in his arms and legs before the game.
“Early when I got the first hit, it loosened me up a bit and definitely made it easier to take it in to the next at bat.”
While Craft was speaking of himself, Doorey noted how one player getting hits tends to positively affect the chances of other players hitting.
“It’s contagious,” Doorey said. “Once you start hitting, everybody will hit.”
Doorey acknowledged Craft, who struggled offensively as a freshman, is now an essential player for the Cards.
“Craft’s been instrumental in keeping us in ball games right now,” Doorey said. “[Both] offensively and defensively. He’s one of the best defenders in the league for sure.”
Wednesday’s win ended a losing streak for PSUC that reached seven games the night before with a 3-2 extra-innings loss at Clarkson University.
“[Tuesday’s] loss was pretty discouraging,” Doorey said. “We played in the bitter cold, the snow, sun, wind. We played well, we just didn’t get any hits with guys in the scoring position. I think we were 1-for-16 or 1-for-17 with guys in the scoring position.”
With the losing streak at an end, the next step is to get wins in conference play. That task begins in New Paltz today.
Email Lexus Gomez at email@example.com