Already up by three runs, Rafael Gomez Jr. stepped into the batter’s box, looking to extend Rochester’s lead. The speedster smashed a flyball to the left-center field fence, racing to third base for an RBI triple.
The Syracuse Spartans (12-19-2, 26 points) started off on the wrong foot and could never get back on track in their 5-0 loss to the Rochester Ridgemen (28-6-1, 57 points) on Friday night. The first-place Ridgemen took the lead in the bottom of the first inning and never looked back, thanks to eight shutout frames by right-hander Michael Ribis. The Spartans dropped their second straight contest and are now 10 points behind the Syracuse Salt Cats for a playoff spot with nine games remaining.
But the contest started positively for the Spartans when Robert Johnston drew a lead-off walk to start the game. After retiring Patrick May and Tanner De Grazia, Rochester’s starter, Michael Ribis, froze Perry Arthur Chetney on a breaking ball to retire the side.
The Ridgemen jumped out to an early one-run advantage off Syracuse’s starter, Benjamin Beratta. The right-hander struck out the dangerous Rafael Gomez Jr. but then allowed a walk and a single. An error by the Spartans’ defense plated Mason White for the game’s first run, giving the home team a 1-0 lead after the opening frame.
That score was more than enough for Ribis, who dominated on the mound throughout the game. The Niagara County Community College sophomore mowed down Spartan after Spartan to the tune of eight shutout innings.
Rochester would double the Spartans’ deficit when Kody Putnam cracked an RBI double to score Alec Blakestad in the bottom of the fourth. Cooper Mills’s RBI single in the fifth extended the Ridgemen lead 3-0, and a triple by Gomez Jr. and a sacrifice fly by White in the seventh made it 5-0 Rochester.
Beretta would finish the job on the mound for Syracuse, tossing a complete game in his first start in nearly two years. The Marcellus native finished with an impressive eight strikeouts over eight innings of five-run ball (four earned).
The Spartans’ bats were quiet against the dealing Ribis. A single by Tyler Gendron in the second and a double by De Grazia in the fourth were the only blemishes against the home team’s right-hander, who allowed two hits through eight innings. Ribis also whiffed a season-high 12 batters, making his case for the NYCBL Pitcher of the Night.
The Spartans return home to battle the Horseheads Hitmen for a doubleheader on Saturday. First pitch of game from the Onondaga Community College Sports Complex is set for 11:00 a.m. Game two will follow. Fans can watch the Spartans’ live broadcast by visiting our website, https://syracusespartans.com/live/.