By Andrew Carey
SYRACUSE, NEW YORK—The Syracuse Spartans (17-23) spent their Friday squaring off in a crucial double header against their rival, Syracuse Salt Cats (17-23).
For the Spartans, it was a chance to capitalize on Sherrill, who was two games up on the Spartans heading into the day, losing two games of a double header to the Onondaga Flames.
In game one of the double header, the Spartans squandered their opportunity as the Salt Cats came out on top, 8-2. Stuart Martin took the ball for Doug Willey’s staff, going 2.1 innings, giving up eight earned runs on six hits, striking out two. Michael Bubniak took the ball and did well, pitching the remaining, 3.2 innings, allowing just three hits and no runs, striking out three.
The Spartans bats didn’t have their best day, notching just three hits against the Salt Cats pitching staff in game one, resulting in just two runs. Game two was much of the same for the Spartans offense, recording three hits again, but this time producing just one run. However, Joe Guerette came up with a much better performance on the mound.
The College of Saint Rose right-handed pitcher was dominant on the mound for Syracuse, over powering the Salt Cats lineup. Guerette’s line read 6 innings, giving up 4 hits and just 1 earned run, striking out 7 Salt Cats.
“He was able to locate his off-speed stuff late in the in the count,” said manager Brian Burns on the outing for Guerette. “Early in the count, he was able to throw a lot of first pitch strikes, and he got a lot of guys to chase change ups for strike two and three. He did a great job with his off speed stuff and was just able to compete for us.”
The Spartans offense had just three hits, from the likes of Josh Loeffler, Ray Zincone, and an unlikely candidate in Michael Paciocco. Usually a reliever for the Spartans, Paciocoo has been called on to play some third and shortstop given the injuries to Lou Miceli and Andrew Pedone. Paciocco scored the only run of the ball game for the Spartans.
All in all, in 14 innings of play the Syracuse offense scratched just six hits together. The injuries for Syracuse have affected the offense most without Eddie Pietschman, Miceli, and Pedone. All batters with over 20 RBIs, and batting over .270.
“I think we focused too much with what was going on with Sherill and Onondaga, and we weren’t really ready to play,” said manager Brian Burns on his team’s performance. “We had bases loaded twice today, and we didn’t get a run out of it. The only time we got runs in the first game was them gifting them to us, with wild pitches and a runner on third. We did a little too much scoreboard watching, and we weren’t ready to play.”
The Spartans can now be eliminated from the playoffs with one more loss. Syracuse and Sherrill are the last two teams in the NYCBL Eastern Division who can qualify for the playoffs. Sherrill holds a two-game lead over the Spartans for third place in the Eastern Division.
“We can’t worry about the playoffs, we have to worry about winning, and what we can control,” said Burns on the playoff hunt. “We got to go out and win each at bat tomorrow, it’s a very winnable game for us. Everyone knows Sherrill is thin on pitching, and yeah were hurting too, but we’ve had great success at Noyes Park.”
The Spartans take on Sherrill at Noyes Park tomorrow, July 21st, at 2:00 pm in Sherill, New York. The final Spartans game of the regular season is at home on Sunday, July 22nd, at 1:30 pm. The Spartans host the Syracuse Salt Cats at Blink Fitness Field at Hopkins Road Park.