The Red Hawks played what would be the first few games of an eight-game home stand at Yogi Berra Stadium this past weekend.
Prior to Sunday’s game, the Red Hawks split the two games of a doubleheader against the Oneonta Red Dragons. This put their record at an even 6-6 heading into their game against the Neumann University Knights.
Unfortunately for Montclair State University, they ended up losing in blowout fashion by a final score of 10-3.
Neumann University wasted no time getting the game started. Right fielder John Schoelkopf hit a leadoff double, then advanced to third on a fielders choice, giving Neumann second and third with just one out.
Designated hitter Curt Yenchik would then hit a line drive into the wind, carrying it way over Montclair State junior center fielder Brody Labbe and dropped for a two RBI double. Not long after, first baseman Joe Nepi hit an absolute bomb to right field for a two-run home run, and the Knights took a 4-0 lead into the bottom half of the first.
The Red Hawks would come to bat looking to get right back into the game and would end up accomplishing just that. Junior second baseman Joe Norton started it off with a fly ball that managed to fall for a leadoff single. Freshman third baseman Matthew Manning would then hit a ground ball that bounced off the Knights pitcher’s foot, allowing Manning to get to first.
The big blow would then come from freshman first baseman Peter Cosentino, who would hit a high fly ball into the wind. The ball ended up sailing over the right field fence for a three-run home run and Montclair State was back in it, as they now trailed just 4-3.
The score would remain 4-3 for the next few innings, as neither team managed to generate many scoring opportunities. After his rough first inning, Red Hawks freshman starting pitcher Nicholas Sefick settled in, as he would only allow one hit and no runs throughout the remainder of his start. He finished the game with four innings pitched, four earned runs, four hits and struck out two batters.
While the Red Hawks pitching kept them in the game for a while, their offense failed to remain hot.
Despite outhitting Neumann 7-4 throughout the first five innings, they still failed to get the runs necessary to tie the game or take the lead. Head coach Jared Holowaty was particularly frustrated with his batters’ failure to make adjustments to the pitches they were being dealt.
“The most frustrating part for me, and I know the team, is we didn’t make adjustments offensively,” Holowaty said. “The lefty there was throwing a good change-up, and we never really made the adjustments to be able to hit it. When you don’t do that, it’s tough to win.”
In the top of the sixth, the Knights would ultimately put the game away, taking advantage of some sloppy baseball by Montclair State.
It started when Red Hawks junior catcher Justin Bates appeared to fumble a pitch in the dirt. The Knights runners advanced to second and third with no one out.
Second baseman Andrew La Rosa then hit a pop-up fly ball, but miscommunication between the Red Hawks outfielders allowed the ball to drop for an RBI single in which he would advance to second on a throwing error by Manning. The Knights would score again on a passed ball by Bates.
When asked if the team’s youth and inexperience played a factor in the errors, Holowaty had his own opinion.
“Yes, in some ways,” Holowaty said. “But in other ways, in a nine-inning baseball game where there’s 27 outs, sometimes people get lackadaisical. And if you lose it for a second in baseball, bad things can happen.”
Throughout the rest of the inning, the Red Hawks just couldn’t stop the bleeding.
The Knights ended up scoring back-to-back runs, the first on a sacrifice fly, and the second on a RBI single. Then, after a hit-by-pitch and a walk, the Knights had the bases loaded with two outs with designated hitter Colin Pollard coming to the plate.
Pollard ended up delivering the dagger: A two-RBI single to put Neumann University up 10-3, which ended up being the final score.
Holowaty spoke to his players after the game telling them exactly what his mission is.
“I just spoke to the guys out in the field and I said, ‘Look, my number one goal is to make you guys as good as you’re capable of being everyday,'” Holowaty said. “So that process never ends, the wins and losses will come from us putting good games together. Sometimes we’ll put a good game together and lose, but I just want us to play a better brand of baseball, to put us in a better situation to win.”