Clutch hitting gives Ridgemen first back-to-back wins of season

Junior Joshua Parks (University of Chicago) delivered a two-run double in the seventh inning, giving the Rochester Ridgemen the lead for good in a 5-1 win over the Genesee Rapids in New York Collegiate Baseball League action Thursday night at Basket Road Field.

The Ridgemen loaded the bases in the seventh thanks to a walk to junior Dillon McTague (Colorado Christian University), a single for freshman Jonathan Sabino (Coppin State University) and a walk to senior Christian Bitar (Regis University). This brought Parks to the plate with two outs. After fouling off his first two pitches, Parks was able to poke the ball into right field, bringing in both McTague and Sabino.

“Coming up with the bases loaded, you never want to leave them empty, especially in a tied ballgame,” Parks said. “So [I] came up looking for a fastball to hit, got one [and] missed it. [I] saw another one, it was probably out of the zone, missed it again, and then just tried to grind it out. I’ve struggled with some strikeouts recently and in the last couple of games I’ve tried to turn that around. I saw another fastball, got a little out in front and got it off the cap, but it fell in.”

Sophomore Daniel Smith (University of Chicago) started on the mound for the Ridgemen, holding the Rapids to one run on five hits and five walks, while striking out four in six-and-two-thirds innings.

“It was a great team win. I was just trying to throw strikes this time, which I’ve been struggling with recently,” Smith said. “I did it and the defense made some plays behind me.”

The Rapids took an early lead, going up 1-0 in the third inning. Sophomore Josh Hayner (Messiah College) led off the inning with a triple to right field, setting up an opportunity which junior AJ Nitzschke (Northwestern College) later took advantage of. With one out in the inning, Nitzschke stepped to the plate and drove a sacrifice fly into center field, allowing Hayner to score easily.

But, the Ridgemen responded in the bottom half of the third inning, adding a run to tie the game. Junior Connor Dunn (University of Puget Sound) reached base with a lead-off walk, advancing to second on a wild pitch and third on a groundout to the shortstop. This gave senior TJ Lanning (Trinity College) the chance to hit a sacrifice fly to right field, plating Dunn to tie the game.

It took all the way until the seventh for the tie to be broken, but Parks’ double did the job. But, the Ridgemen were not done scoring.

In the eighth inning, the Ridgemen added two insurance runs to create some breathing room. Sophomore Andrew Bayard (Westmont College) started off with a single to right field, followed by a single for Dunn. The runners moved to second and third on a sacrifice bunt, bringing up Lanning. He worked a 2-2 count and slapped the next pitch into center, with both runners coming around to score.

The Rapids got a runner to third in the ninth, but could not drive them in as the Ridgemen secured the victory.

Ridgemen manager Justin Dillard said it was the team’s best game of the year and most complete performance.

“That has to be one of the best wins we’ve had all year as far as just playing a clean game,” Dillard said. “Obviously, pitching, limiting to one run, playing great defense, stringing together two at bats with really two strikes. Strikeouts have been something where that’s been a third of our outs for the season. So two-strike hitting was, I believe, the difference in the game.”

Rapids head coach Joe Mina said the game came down to lack of offense for his team.

“We didn’t hit tonight, left a lot of guys on base. We’ve been doing that this past week,” Mina said. “Team’s go through that. I have to give it to the Ridgemen, they pitched well tonight and they beat us fair and square.”

The Ridgemen offense found success, despite not recording a base hit between the second and sixth inning, thanks to the Rapids’ starting pitcher, senior Victor Cavalieri (Houghton College).

Cavalieri held the Ridgemen to one run on one hit and four walks in six innings, striking out three.

“A lot of off-speed today, the curveball was on [and] fastball was running really well,” Cavalieri said. “So the combination of those two pitches kept batters off-balance today.”

The Ridgemen improve to 7-20 on the year, while the Rapids’ record drops to 12-18.

The Ridgemen will play Friday on the road against the Sherrill Silversmiths at 5 p.m.

The Rapids next game will be Friday at 5 p.m., hitting the road for a three-game set against the Wellsville Nitros.

Free passes doom Ridgemen in loss to Genesee

Senior Grant Myers (Monmouth College) went 2-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored for the Genesee Rapids, who defeated the Rochester Ridgemen 12-6 in New York Collegiate Baseball League action Thursday night at Basket Road Field.

“Just looking at pitches I can drive. They shifted on me, they came in on me on, I want to say, two at bats,” Myers said. “Just trying to hit it and taking some pitches where I know it would play into the shift. Trying to hit it where they’re not.”

Myers was one to two Rapids players to drive in three runs over the course of the game, with the second being senior Justin Carey (New England College). Carey knocked in his three runs on two hits in four at bats, also scoring twice.

The Rapids also benefited from free passes, drawing 12 walks against the Ridgemen pitching staff. Senior Adam Marston (Eastern Mennonite University) led the Rapids with four walks and did not see a strike until his fourth at bat, which came in the seventh inning.

The Rapids’ offense acted quickly in its scoring effort, plating two runs to open the game in the first inning. Sophomore Josh Hayner (Messiah College) led off the game with a single, coming around to score when senior Travis Ralls (Greenville College) doubled down the left field line. Ralls would not be on base for long, as Myers stepped to the plate and doubled into the right-centerfield gap to bring Ralls in.

The Ridgemen got a run back in the bottom half of the first, beginning with back-to-back hits for sophomore Sean Rooney (Point Loma Nazerene University), a double, and senior Christina Bitar (Regis University), a single, to put runners on the corners. The bases became loaded when junior Joshua Parks (University of Chicago) was hit by a pitch, allowing sophomore Seth Hagan (Centre College) to come to the plate and slap one on the ground to third base, breaking up the double play attempt by reaching first. Rooney scored on the fielder’s choice.

After both teams went scoreless until the fourth inning, the Rapids added five runs between the fourth and fifth innings (two in the fourth and three in the fifth).

In the fourth, the Rapids loaded the bases with a single for junior AJ Nitzschke (Nortwestern College) and walks to Carey and Marston. Senior John Zamites (Houghton College) singled home Nitzschke for the first run and Hayner followed with getting hit by a pitch, bringing in Carey.

In the fifth inning, Ralls tripled and Myers walked, then stole second, setting up Carey to double both runners home to put the Rapids up 6-1. Carey moved to third on a groundout, scoring on a wild pitch during Marston’s third walk of the game.

The Ridgemen scored two in the bottom of the fifth to pull back within three. Rooney walked to reach base and came around to score when Bitar doubled into the left-centerfield gap. A wild pitch advanced Bitar to third, with the following pitch putting Parks on with another hit by a pitch. Parks attempted to steal second, but was thrown out by Ralls, allowing Bitar to score on the throw.

However, the Rapids responded with three runs in the sixth inning to push the lead to 10-3. Myers contributed to the scoring with a one-out, two RBI single, plating Hayner and junior Zach Roberts (Eastern Mennonite University), who had both walked and advanced on a wild pitch. Myers then moved to second on a walk to Nitzschke and to third on a wild pitch. Myers crossed the plate on a single for Carey.

The two teams traded runs in the late innings, starting with an RBI single for senior TJ Lanning (Trinity College) in the eighth to score Parks. Parks had doubled to open the inning and moved to third when Hagan singled.

The Rapids put up their final two runs in the top of the ninth. Martson drew his fourth, and final, walk leading off the inning and got to second on a passed ball. Hayner then stepped to the plate and doubled to right field to bring Marston around. A groundout sent Hayner to third and a throwing error to first brought him in to score.

The Ridgemen managed to load the bases on walks to sophomore Brooks Pitaniello (Harding University), Rooney and Bitar, allowing Hagan to single home a run to get a comeback attempt started in the bottom of the ninth.

“I just try to be consistent every game with what I can do at the plate,” Hagan said. “New pitcher in pitched to Joshua Parks two fastballs up and a changeup. He started me off two fastballs up, so I thought a changeup was coming, I got it and luckily I was able to put it in play.”

Lanning then grounded into a fielder’s choice, bringing in Rooney. But, this is as far as the comeback would go, as the Rapids secured the final out for the victory.

Rapids’ head coach Joe Mina said some healthy returners have helped provide the team with some production.

“Some guys that just came off of the injury reserve were starting to produce, so that’s nice to see,” Mina said. “[There were] a couple starters tonight that were sidelined, so they’re starting to get into a groove.”

Dillard said a positive to take away from the game is the increased production from the offense.

“[I was] excited to see the at bats they were starting to piece together at the end,” Dillard said. “We haven’t been a team that gets a lot of hits, so if all of our runs are coming by free passes, it’s going to be difficult.”

Senior Victor Cavalieri (Houghton College) held the Ridgemen to three runs, four hits and three walks over four-and-one-third innings pitched in his Rapids debut.

“I felt like we swung the bat well tonight. [It] gave me a little more confidence on the bump,” Cavalieri said. “Pitching with a lead is always a big confidence booster.”

Cavalieri also struck out five in the start, four of which came by the swinging variety.

“I felt like my off-speed was working really well tonight,” Cavalieri said. “Staying on top of the ball, keeping it over the plate, throwing a lot of strikes helps get outs.”

Freshman Dominic Zingale (Lakeland Community College) pitched two-and-two-thirds scoreless and hitless innings in relief for the Rapids, giving up two walks and striking out three.

The Ridgemen fall to 5-16 on the season, while the Rapids improve to 10-14 and maintain a playoff spot.

The Rapids will next play Friday at home against the Olean Oilers at 7 p.m.

The Ridgemen will take on the Hornell Dodgers at home on Friday at 7 p.m.

Stellar pitching leads Ridgemen past Rome

by Mike DeSanto

Sophomore Josh Stella (Hillsdale College) held the Rome Generals to two runs (one earned) on four hits and three walks in seven innings, earning the 4-2 win for the Rochester Ridgemen in New York Collegiate Baseball League action.

“We had one little shaky inning there, but [I] felt like I was getting ahead of guys and executing pitches,” Stella said. “We played good defense behind me again. I felt good out there and it was just a big win.”

Stella, a right-hander, struck out eight hitters over those seven innings, giving him the second-most strikeouts on the team with 21. Senior Tanner Pruett (Crown College) leads the Ridgemen with 26 strikeouts.

“Just getting ahead, being able to mix my pitches and throw all three pitches for strikes was huge,” Stella said.

Stella also had a balanced fly out to ground out ratio, forcing six fly outs and five ground outs.

Ridgemen head coach Justin Dillard said Stella can always be counted on by his teammates to stay in the game mentally, not matter the situation.

“He’s just a competitor. He likes to toe the rubber, look down and not allow anybody to beat him,” Dillard said. “Whether he has good stuff that day, bad stuff that day, it doesn’t matter. He’s mind strong.”

Senior Casey Claflin (Shawnee State University) entered in the eighth inning, keeping the Generals scoreless and hitless while walking three and striking out two over two innings to earn the six-out save.

The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the fourth, when the Ridgemen broke through. Junior Josh Parks (University of Chicago) singled to centerfield to open the inning and advanced to second when sophomore Seth Hagan (Centre College) walked. The Ridgemen then executed a double steal, but the throw from home went wide of the third baseman, rolling into foul territory and allowing Parks to score the first run of the game, while Hagan reached second safely.

However, the Generals answered back in the fifth inning with a pair of runs to take the lead. Junior Carmine Giordano (Franklin Pierce University) led off the inning with a double, but was forced out on a fielder’s choice, though junior Caleb Kerbs (University of Maine Orono) was safe at first. This set up freshman Jake Balderston (Western New England College) for a game-tying RBI triple into the right-centerfield gap. Balderston scored in the next at bat, which resulted in a sacrifice fly out to centerfield for freshman Vincent Martin (University of Massachusetts-Lowell).

“Honestly, I was looking for a fastball,” Balderston said. “[He] threw me a pretty good one, [I] tried to get the barrel on it, hit it hard somewhere. They were playing me a little shallow, I’m not a guy who hits a lot of bombs, I’m not a big guy, but it was nice to hit one in the gap and score that run.”

But, the Ridgemen were not kept silent for long, as they responded in the bottom of the half to tie the game. Sophomore Brooks Pitaniello (Harding University) drew a walk, his second of the game, to start off the inning. Sophomore Sean Rooney (Point Loma Nazarene University) then stepped to the plate and struck a double into the right-centerfield gap, with Pitaniello speeding around the bases to score the game-tying run all the way from first.

“I just got a pitch to hit and put a good swing on it,” Rooney said. “I hit it, I was like ‘oh shoot, that ball’s in the gap.’ I did what I could and luckily it worked out.”

The Ridgemen’s third, and eventual game-winning run, came in the seventh inning. Parks got on thanks to a single with two outs, stealing second with Hagan at the plate. Hagan then grounded the ball to third base, seemingly spelling the end of the inning. However, the throw to first bounced into the turf, getting by first base and giving Parks the opportunity to score as the go ahead run.

Senior Ethan Luna (Southwestern University) added a pinch hit, RBI single, dropping the ball in between the shortstop and left fielder, in the eighth inning to plate freshman Jonathan Sabino (Coppin State University). Sabino had previously tripled to lead off the inning.

The Ridgemen then locked down the ninth, despite the Generals getting two runners on, to secure the victory.

Junior Tyler Crane (Nichols College) got the start on the mound for the Generals, pitching four-and-one-third innings with two runs (one earned), one hit and five walks surrendered, striking out three.

“I’m not normally one for walking a bunch of guys,” Crane said. “That was a huge part of not executing on the mound. I still kept it to a run, but at the end of it, it didn’t help our cause.”

Crane said the walks stemmed from difficulty executing his usual strategy.

“I’m more of a down in the zone kind of worker,” Crane said. “[I] wasn’t getting those calls, so I kept trying to pound it, try to get those calls, and then I started skipping balls. I just wasn’t happening, so I had to try to change my approach when I got on the mound.”

Dillard said the team was able to build upon previous issues and put together what was necessary for the win.

“Putting the ball in play with two strikes, that changed the game,” Dillard said. “So [Parks] in the seventh had a great at bat, extended an at bat deep into a count, put a ball out into left-centerfield, ended up getting to second and on the wheel play stole third, they threw it into left field and gave us the lead. Then in the last inning, all three balls put into play were [with] two strikes.”

The Generals’ head coach, Matt Burns, said his team did not perform well in any way, allowing the Ridgemen to take the win.

“It wasn’t very good. We didn’t come out ready to win,” Burns said. “We came out ready to play, but not ready to win, didn’t execute any facet of the game and that’s what happens. You lose.”

The Ridgemen improve to 5-14 on the season, while the Generals fall to 8-9.

The Ridgemen will next play on Wednesday when they hit road to take on the Syracuse Spartans at 5:15 p.m.

The Generals will travel to Wellsville Thursday to take on the Nitros at 5 p.m.

Ridgemen struggle in loss to Genesee

Senior Austin Marsh (Greenville College) struck out nine batters over seven-and-thirds innings in the Genesee Rapids’ 10-2 win over the Rochester Ridgemen in New York Collegiate Baseball League action Tuesday night at Basket Road Field. Marsh allowed one run on two hits and five walks.

“I knew our starting pitcher went pretty far against them last time,” Marsh said. “Our defense has been solid the last week, so I never have worry about anything like that, I know I can just throw strikes.”

The Ridgemen matched Marsh by starting sophomore Daniel Smith (University of Chicago) on the mound. Smith finished his start with six runs (five earned), eight hits and six walks surrendered, striking out two in five innings.

“It was a rough start. I got behind in too many counts [and] walked too many guys,” Smith said. “Then they just sit fastball and they know it’s coming. It’s tough to pitch like that.

Rapids’ head coach Joe Mina said the win was a very positive experience after a rocky road to open the season.

“We’ve been struggling, going up and down, kind of a roller coaster ride for the last week or so,” Mina said. “It was nice to see guys who have been taking a break coming off the bench and producing for us. Just a total team effort.”

The Rapids began scoring quickly, plating three runs in the first two innings.

In the first inning, after junior AJ Nitzschke (Northwestern College) doubled with two outs, senior Travis Ralls (Greenville College) singled to give the Rapids’ a 1-0 lead. The Rapids followed with two runs in the second on a single for senior John Zamites (Houghton College), scoring sophomores Josh Hayner (Messiah College) and Aneury Lara (New England College).

The Ridgemen broke up the shutout in the second, loading the bases with one out. This set up junior Connor Dunn (University of Puget Sound) to draw a walk, scoring senior Ethan Luna (Southwestern University).

Hayner came around to score again in the fourth when senior Adam Marston (Eastern Mennonite University) singled, but the Rapids delivered a blow in the fifth thanks to Lara.

With the bases loaded after Ralls reached on an error, freshman JP Knight (Tufts University) walked and Hayner reached on a fielder’s choice, Lara stepped to the plate with a chance to extend the lead. He wasted no time, jumping on the first pitch and driving it into the outfield for a two-run double.

Another two runs came across in the sixth when Knight drew a bases-loaded walk, with the ball getting away and allowing both Nitzschke and senior Judah Wollenburg (Indiana Wesleyan University) to score.

But Knight’s night was not over, as in the eighth inning with two outs and one on, he slapped a single into right field. The right fielder came up firing to try to get Nitzschke, who had walked, out at third, but the ball sailed out of play and Nitzschke scored.

“I felt like my last few games I’ve been seeing too many pitches, so I tried to attack strikes early,” Knight said. “Anything close I just like to drive it. [I] just got a couple good pitches to hit and took advantage.”

Lara scored on a sacrifice groundout by Zamites in the ninth with the Ridgemen adding a second run in the bottom half when senior TJ Lanning (Trinity College) tripled and scored on their own sacrifice groundout for junior Dillon McTague (Colorado Christian College).

However, this is as far as the Ridgemen got, as the Rapids got through the ninth to secure the win.

Ridgemen head coach Justin Dillard said there weren’t many positives to the game.

“It was weird night. We were bad [and] they made a lot of outs on the base paths,” Dillard said. “So what do you take from this? Not a thing. Hopefully, a night like this never happens again.”

The Ridgemen drop to 3-10, while the Rapids improve to 7-9 on the year.

The Ridgemen will next play Wednesday when they travel to Cortland to play the Crush at 6 p.m.

The Rapids will play on Wednesday, hosting the Olean Oilers at 7 p.m.

June 4th Game Recap

Written by Mikael Desanto

Senior Chris Wastchak (California University of Pennsylvania) went 1-for-3 with three RBI and a run scored as the Olean Oilers beat the Rochester Ridgemen 9-3 in New York Collegiate Baseball League action at Basket Road Field.

“You get out there and go at it,” Oilers head coach Jay Weitzel said. “It’s a good win. [We] played good [and] got good pitching.”

Sophomore Cameron Weinberger (University of Florida) also contributed to the Oilers cause, throwing eight innings and allowing three runs (all unearned) on six hits with 10 strikeouts.

“I was just really trying to pound the zone,” Weinberger said. “I thought my fastball was moving and I just tried to get ahead.”

The Ridgemen sent senior Tanner Pruett (Crown College) to the hill to start, getting six-and-two-thirds innings and five runs, five hits and four walks surrendered from the left hander.

“[I] had a good catcher back there behind the plate,” Pruett said. “Towards the end I got a little tired. Like I said, [the] defense did well and the catcher back there, gives me confidence.”

The scoring began in the second inning as the Ridgemen took control early.

After two quick outs to open the inning, senior TJ Lanning II (ASA College) and junior Connor Dunn (University of Puget Sound) keep the inning going with singles. Freshman Trevor Cho (St. Cloud State) wasted no time taking advantage of the opportunity, slapping a single to score Lanning and get the Ridgemen on the board.

“I just wanted to be aggressive,” Cho said. “First pitch was a ball and it was a fastball. I was sitting fastball on the next pitch, it was a little outside but it was still a strike, so I swung, put a nice swing on it and we scored.”

Freshman Jonathan Sabino (Coppin State University) and junior Joshua Parks (University of Chicago) would follow with an RBI double and RBI single, respectively, to put the Ridgemen up 3-0 after two.

However, in the fourth inning, the Oilers chipped into the Ridgemen lead and sparked the offense with one swing. Wastchak, who had a long fly out to right field in his first at bat, stepped to the plate with one out in the fourth. He then proceeded to square up a hanging curveball from Pruett and dispensed it over the right-centerfield wall for a solo home run.

“I saw him the first at bat and I know he was throwing all that slide stuff,” Wastchak said. “I saw on (sophomore Jacob) Burlingame (Canisius College), he struck him out with that slider in, so I was looking for something like that on me. On that first pitch out, I could hear him (the catcher) move out, then I could hear him move in on me. I was looking for something in, I saw it and drove it.”

But the Oilers were not done, as sophomore Isaac Porter (St. Bonaventure University) singled home a run in the sixth to put the Oilers down one.

However, it would be the seventh inning which proved the difference. Pruett picked up two quick outs and it appeared it would be smooth sailing through the seventh. The Oilers had other ideas, getting two runners on and setting up sophomore Alex Amos (University of Pittsburgh) for a game-tying single.

But the run scoring was not over, as the next batter worked a walk to load the bases. Two more walks brought in two more runs and the Oilers left the top of the seventh leading 5-3.

The Oilers would add four insurance runs in the eighth inning on a single from sophomore Jacob Miknis (St. Bonaventure University), a bases-loaded hit by a pitch for Burlingame, sacrifice groundout from Wastchak and, finally, a wild pitch.

The Ridgemen were set down 1-2-3 in both the eighth and ninth, ending the game.

“I thought Tanner threw the ball really well. He gave us a chance to win,” Ridgemen coach Mitchell Holland said. “Overall it was encouraging.”

The Ridgemen fall to 0-3 on the season, while the Oilers get their first win of the season at 1-2.

The Ridgemen’s next game will be Tuesday at 6 p.m. on the road against the Cortland Crush.

The Oilers will next play on Monday at home at 10:30 a.m. against the Genesee Rapids.

Napleton’s strong finish leads Twins past Ridgemen

WEBSTER, N.Y. — Marty Napleton (St. Joseph’s) had a tough start to the game, cracking two line drives that were caught in right and center field. But he would rebound, recording a hit in his next three at-bats, including leading off the 10th inning with a single.

Geneva’s catcher would later score the game-winning run, giving the Twins a 5-4 win in extra innings over the Rochester Ridgemen in New York Collegiate Baseball League action on Sunday afternoon at Basket Road Field.

“We’re a good team. I just told the guys there’s no reason to press,” Geneva manager Andrew Weeks said after his team blew a three-run lead in the eighth inning.

(read the rest of the article here)

Ridgemen kick off their 2015 campaign

Baseball is back in Webster. The New York Collegiate Baseball League starts back up again, and the Rochester Ridgemen are calling Basket Road Field home for another summer.

The Ridgemen, under the direction of general manager Chris Rainwater,  is a collection of summer collegiate athletes from all around the country that play summer ball in hopes of improving their skills or getting noticed by scouts who will come to various games.

Players from this league include Hunter Pence and Rajai Davis, who currently play for the San Francisco Giants and Toronto Blue Jays, respectively.

Head Coach Joe Shallenberger is in his first year as head man for the Ridgemen, who are looking to make it two playoff appearances in a row after making it to last year’s NYCBL Western Divisional Series before falling in the best-of-three to the Geneva Twins.

Assistant coach Trent Sullivan is also in his first year of coaching, transforming from his role as a player from a season ago.

Sullivan was able to compile a .208 batting average in the summer of 2014, with four doubles and a triple while driving in 10 runs on the season.

The Ridgemen feature two players from Western New York, as Cameron Carney is from Niagara Falls and Tage Johnson calls Jamestown home.

Rochester also features three players from the baseball-heavy state of Texas, while two hail from California and two from the Sunshine State of Florida.

The lone returner to the 2015 team from last season in player form is Shane Soria, who is from Auburn, California and takes his classes at Westmont College. Soria batted .318 last summer, with four doubles and two triples while driving in 17 runs over the course of the season.

Soria also featured 14 multi-hit games throughout the season.

Rochester was home on Monday night, taking on the Wellsville Nitros, but the game ended too late for publication.

The Ridgemen are home on June 3 and 4, taking on the Twins and then the Niagara Power. After a road game on the fifth, they are back to take on the Power and Twins again on June 6 and 7, respectively.

Admission to the games is free.

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