By Rob Potter
LOCH SHELDRAKE The Sullivan Spartans opened their 2007 baseball season last Sunday afternoon with a doubleheader versus the Wappingers Yankees.
The Spartans also became the first team to play a game on their “home” field for the summer the baseball field which was recently built on the campus of Sullivan County Community College (SCCC).
Due to inclement weather and the field conditions this spring, the SCCC Generals baseball team did not have the opportunity to host a game on its own field and played all 36 games on the road.
Although a few rain drops fell on Sunday afternoon and there was a chilly breeze at times, the sun peeked out from behind the clouds quite often as the Spartans and Yankees began their respective seasons.
Both the Sullivan Spartans and Wappingers Yankees are members of the Collegiate Baseball League (CBL) and therefore will play each other a few times this summer. But Sunday’s twinbill at SCCC was a non-league event.
Wappingers (1-0-1) won the opener, 10-4, while the nightcap ended in a scoreless tie after seven innings due to darkness.
Both teams are known for their great pitching and such was the case in the second game as pitchers from both teams did not allow a hit in the 0-0 tie.
For the Spartans, Jeremiah Ferris started the game. Ferris allowed one walk while striking out three, showing good command and keeping the ball on the ground. Mike Murtagh, a 6-foot-5 right-hander, simply dominated during his three innings. Murtagh struck out six and walked just one batter.
A miscommunication on a stolen base attempt by Wappingers allowed for the only runner of the game to reach second base with one out in the top of the seventh inning. Murtagh then struck out the final two hitters to end the Yankees’ scoring threat.
The Spartans didn’t fare too well against Wappingers pitching, striking out 13 times. Chris Armstrong became the Spartans’ only baserunner when he reached on an error by the Yankees’ third baseman in the second inning.
“[Jeremiah] Ferris and [Mike] Murtagh were outstanding, hopefully that sets the tone for our rotation this summer,” Sullivan Spartans Head Coach/General Manager Jed Carrier said. “Jeremiah used his two-seam fastball to perfection and Mike had their hitters in knots with the sharpness of his breaking pitch.”
Wappingers takes Game 1
While the pitchers prevailed in the second game, Sunday’s opener featured plenty of hits and runs.
Wappingers took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second. Kevin Paino ripped a stand-up double to deep left field, which allowed J.D. Broderick to score the game’s first run. Paino then crossed the plate when the next batter, Dan Slate, singled to right field.
An RBI single by Broderick in the top of the third gave the Yankees a 3-0 lead.
The Spartans got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third. With two outs, Devin Conroy singled and advanced to third base on an error. He then scored on a passed ball to cut the Yankees’ lead to a pair of runs at 3-1.
Wappingers responded with three runs in the fourth as Ron Bracchi hit a two-run single and then scored on a base hit by Chris Daniels.
(Daniels, a graduate of Roy C. Ketcham High School who hails from Wappingers Falls, played for the SCCC baseball team this spring and will be one of the Generals’ top returning players next season.)
Wappingers took a 10-1 lead by scoring four runs in the top of the fifth. Key hits in the inning included consecutive RBI singles by Bill Mercurcio and Broderick.
The Spartans battled back by scoring twice in the bottom of the fifth. Lenin Sepulveda, who like Daniels was a freshman on the SCCC baseball team this spring, was the first batter of the inning and reached base on an error. Sepulveda scored moments later when teammate Byron Haynes hit into a fielder’s choice.
The next batter, Matt Berger, who is a Sullivan West Central School alum, ripped a single to right field, which allowed B.J. Masopost to score and cut the Wappingers’ lead to 10-3.
The Spartans recorded their final run of the contest in the bottom of the seventh. Haynes, who reached base on an infield hit, crossed the plate on a single by Devin Conroy.
“Our pitchers need to improve on getting ahead of hitters and bearing down with two outs, we allowed six runs today after the second out,” Carrier said. “I was very pleased with how Kyle Sinclair threw the ball , he again will be one of our most valuable arms.”
In two innings of work, Sinclair allowed one hit, struck out four and walked one.
Overall, Carrier is happy to start another season, which will be his fourth as the Spartans’ Head Coach/General Manager.
“We are very excited to be starting [our season] a week earlier this year and as long as the weather holds up, we’ll be able to get a good look at everyone,” he said.
Notes: The Spartans’ record currently stands at 0-1-1.
Whether or not Sunday’s second game will be continued at some point later on this season will be determined by Carrier and Wappingers Yankees Manager E. Roland Norris.
However, the teams will see each other again tomorrow as the Spartans open up their 2007 CBL schedule with a 5 p.m. doubleheader at Wappingers.
The Spartans are then slated to return home to the SCCC Baseball Field on Sunday afternoon to face the Waterford Fordians of the Eastern New York Collegiate Baseball League in a non-league contest.
The first pitch of the opening game is slated for 3 p.m.