By Rob Potter
LOCH SHELDRAKE The visiting Putnam Athletics and Sullivan Spartans split a Collegiate Baseball League doubleheader on Saturday afternoon at the Sullivan County Community College baseball field in Loch Sheldrake.
Sullivan won the opening game, 6-5, and Putnam took the second contest, 3-1.
In the Game 1 win, Ross Abbott, Efrain Bautista and Ryan Dichiara led the Spartans’ offense. Abbott and Bautista both went 2 for 4. Bautista hit a single and a triple, while Abbott had two singles and scored two runs. Dichiara hit a single and a double and had two RBIs.
Mark Schaper got the win on the mound for Sullivan. He went six-and-a-third innings and struck out nine batters.
Chris Stawski got the final two outs to earn the save.
In Game 2, Putnam wasted little time in taking the lead.
The first batter of the contest, Joe Gatewood, walked, stole second base and went to third base on a wild pitch. Joe Berte grounded out, but Gatewood was able to cross the plate on the play to give the Athletics a 1-0 advantage.
Sullivan answered with a run in the bottom of the first. With one out, Bryan White hit a home run over the right field fence to even the score at 1-1.
Putnam responded by regaining the lead in the top of the second. With one out, Matt Guarnaccia reached base on an error. After moving to second base on a passed ball, Guarnaccia advanced to third base on another passed ball. When Matt Pessy singled to left field, Guarnaccia scored to give the Athletics a 2-1 lead.
The two pitchers, Guarnaccia for the Athletics and Forrest Kirsch for the Spartans, kept the opposing hitters in check during the next three innings. However, Putnam was able to add an insurance run in the top of the sixth inning. With one out, Frank Prieto was hit by a pitch. He scored to give Putnam a 3-1 advantage when the next batter, Guarnaccia, ripped a double down the left field line.
The Spartans attempted to rally in the bottom of the seventh by putting two runners on base with no outs. But Guarnaccia and his defense got out of the inning by retiring the next three batters on a fly out, a groundout and a strikeout.
Guarnaccia earned the complete game win for the Athletics. He gave up five hits, struck out four batters, walked three batters and hit one batter.
“It’s absolutely a great feeling to get a win,” Putnam Coach Joe Salumn said. “In the first game, we played great for seven innings and we just came up a bit short. We scored five runs in the seventh inning and had the bases loaded when the third out was recorded.
“I am pleased with the way we kept playing hard the whole game,” Salumn added. “I applaud our guys for the way they hung in there and competed.”
By taking the second game of Sunday’s twinbill, Putnam improved its season record to 5-14. The team’s CBL record is also 5-14.
“We had scoring opportunities throughout the game,” Sullivan Coach Steve Alhona said. “We had the runners on base, but we just couldn’t cash in.”
Alhona praised his players for playing hard in both games. He especially noted the performance of Kirsch on the mound.
“I thought Forrest pitched great today,” Alhona said. “He has been doing just great. He’s done a great job all year for us.”
Note: On Sunday, the Spartans earned a CBL sweep in North Salem. They won the first game, 8-1, against the North Salem Knights. In Game 2, the Spartans rallied for a 5-4 win over the Putnam Athletics.
In the victory over North Salem, Ryan Dichiara was 2 for 4 with an RBI, Jake Schilling was 1 for 3 with a three-run double and Bobby Wagner was 2 for 2 with two runs scored.
Travis Renwick picked up the win for Sullivan. He went seven innings and struck out seven batters.
In the come-from-behind win against Putnam, Bryan White was 3 for 4 with a long home run. Jake Schilling and Efrain Bautista both went 3 for 4 at the plate. Bautista hit a big two-run double that put the Spartans ahead.
Jesse Levine picked up the win after starting pitcher Kyle Montross went down with a tweak in his hamstring after just one-and-a-third innings. Levine went five-and-two-thirds innings, giving up two hits and striking out 10 batters.
With the two wins, Sullivan improved its record to 13-8. The team is closing in on the third spot in the upcoming CBL playoffs.