Strong Pitching Lifts Elmira to 4-2 Win Over Alfred State

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Score: Elmira College 4, Alfred State College 2
Records: Elmira (13-14), Alfred State (7-29)
Location: Dunn Field -- Elmira, N.Y.
ELMIRA, N.Y. -- Elmira College baseball picked up a 4-2 non-conference victory over visiting Alfred State College this evening at historic Dunn Field. Today's game featured a much higher level of defense by both sides, as the first game of this regular-season series on April 18 saw both teams combine for 35 runs. With the win, Elmira snapped a mini three-game skid and in the process ended Alfred State's three-game winning streak.
After working a five-pitch walk, Alfred State's Cullen Franz made his way around the base paths to score the game's first run in the top of the fourth inning. Setting up the score was as a pair of wild pitches, which allowed Franz to advance to second before making his way around third and home to give the Pioneers a 1-0 lead.
A selective eye at the plate paved the way for a pair of Soaring Eagle runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, as the Elmira men took a 2-1 lead. With one out, the next three Soaring Eagle batters reached safely, putting Matt van Muelken '18 at the plate with the bases loaded. The third-year second baseman delivered for EC with a bloop single to right field, scoring Tommy Fogarty '20 from third with ease.
On the next at-bat, a hard hit ball by Joey Florio '20 made its way to Alfred State's third baseman, Lucas Cornell, who bobbled the ball on the play. Florio made him pay for his mistake, as the rookie raced down the first base line and beat out the throw, scoring Eddie O'Donnell IV '18 from third and putting the Purple and Gold on top, 2-1.
Conor Bawiec '18 began the bottom of the fifth inning with a five-pitch walk before swiping second base and advancing to third on a throwing error by the Alfred State catcher. Following a walk to Fogarty, O'Donnell laid down a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt on the first pitch he saw, which advanced Fogarty to second and scored Bawiec from third to extend the Soaring Eagle lead to 3-1.
Blake Phelps '19 entered the game for relief duty in the top of the sixth, taking over for today's starter, Scott Logue '20, who exited with four strikeouts in 5.0 full innings with one run allowed. Phelps came out of the bullpen firing on all cylinders and struck out two of the first three batters he faced. However, the top of the seventh inning would not be so kind to the righty hurler, as Phelps walked four batters and allowed a runner to score on a wild pitch, cutting the Elmira lead to 3-2.
After a scoreless bottom half of the seventh inning, Elmira made the call to the bullpen and brought Nick Cottone '19 in for relief duty. Cottone registered three consecutive fly outs in the top of the eighth to maintain the 3-2 lead for the Soaring Eagles.
Elmira added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning thanks to some erratic pitching from the Pioneers. EC's van Muelken began the inning with a double down the right field line and Florio worked a six-pitch walk to put runners on first and second. A wild pitch by Alfred's Brady Sass put both runners in scoring position with no outs. However, Sass would get the next two Soaring Eagle batters to fly and ground out.
Sass wasn't out of the woods yet, as another walk, this one issued to Bawiec, loaded the bases. The pressure of the moment proved to be too much for him to handle, as he walked Elmira's next batter, Cameron Heggie '18, on four pitches and padded the Purple and Gold lead at 4-2.
Now with a two-run cushion, Elmira turned to Cotton to close the door on the Pioneers. Just as scripted, Cottone mowed down the side with a ground out, strike out and a fly out to earn the save and hand EC its 13th win of the season.

In Their Own Words...
Head Coach Paluga when asked about the performance of the pitching staff...
"They did a very nice job. Scott really showed us a lot, not being 100-percent and still pitching really well for us for five innings. Anytime we're allowing just one or two runs in a game we should be winning the majority of those games. The pitching was certainly something that was nice to see from some guys that haven't pitched as well as they would have liked this entire season, so to see them pitch this well late in the year is certainly something that we want to take as a positive going forward."

Coach Paluga on the importance of good defense in low-scoring games such as Thursday's 4-2 victory...
"It's very important, if not the most important thing. If our pitchers are doing their job and forcing contact and getting poor swings, then the defense has to make the plays. If you struggle to make the routine plays defensively and then you throw in a couple of walks, even something as simple as a single can hurt you. The pitching giving up one hit and the defense playing a clean game was a big part part of the success today."

Coach Paluga on the positive takeaways from the non-conference win...
"I just think we're seeing some good things from some young guys. That's what we want, to continue to build on the depth within this team, create competition at positions, and have guys step up when their names are called. We want guys to be hungry to play, regardless if they are someone that is in the lineup on a regular basis or if it's someone getting an opportunity, to take advantage of that opportunity."
Turning Point
Although today's game was close throughout the entire nine innings, the starting effort Elmira received from Scott Logue was the difference. The rookie hurler allowed just one hit and one run in the first five innings, while striking out four batters in the process. Logue produced the best quality start by a Soaring Eagle in the team's last four games, giving up the fewest amount of runs through five innings by any of Elmira's starters.
Inside the Box Score

  • The two teams combined for eight hits, seven for Elmira and one for Alfred State.
  • Elmira did not commit a single error, while Alfred had two.
  • van Muelken led EC with a 3-for-4 showing at the plate with one RBI and a run scored.
  • Bawiec was 1-for-3 with two walks, one stolen base and one run scored.
  • O'Donnell was 1-for-2 with one RBI, one walk and one run scored.
  • Florio went 1-for-2 with an RBI and one walk.
  • Bellinger was 1-for-4 at the dish.
  • Fogarty walked twice and scored one run.
  • Harrison Zambarano '19 and Heggie earned one walk apiece.
  • Logue earned the win by tossing 5.0 innings of one-run ball and struck out four batters.
  • Phelps came in for relief duty and struck out three batters in 2.0 innings.
  • Cottone picked up the saved by striking out one batter in 2.0 scoreless innings.
  • Thomas Shofi picked up Alfred State's only hit, going 1-for-4 with a double.
  • Sass took the loss after allowing four runs on 155 pitches in 7.2 innings of work.

News and Notes

  • The Soaring Eagles boosted their overall record to 13-14.
  • Elmira snapped a three-game losing streak with today's victory.
  • EC swept the two-game series against the Pioneers this season, and is now 2-4 all-time against Alfred State.
  • The Elmira men improved to 7-5 at historic Dunn Field in 2017.
  • The Purple and Gold held the opposition to just one hit, setting a program record for fewest hits allowed in a game.
  • Logue logged the first win of his collegiate career.
  • Cottone earned his first save of the 2017 season.
  • The three hits van Muelken recorded was a career high for the junior infielder.
  • Bawiec extended his on-base streak to 20 consecutive games.

Up Next
Elmira returns to action this Saturday, April 29, when the Soaring Eagles travel to face the Mavericks of Medaille College. The non-conference doubleheader is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m.