The College of Staten Island men’s baseball team committed a season-high seven errors as the top-seeded Dolphins dropped an 8-4 decision to No. 2 Baruch College in the first leg of the CUNYAC Championship Final held this afternoon at MCU Ballpark in Brooklyn, New York. The win by Baruch, which suffered a loss earlier in the tourney, will force a one-game, winner-take-all, Final for the CUNYAC crown on Tuesday, May 3, at 7:30pm, also at MCU Ballpark.
Despite the unorthodox day in the field, Baruch did manage to cross six of their eight runs as earned runs, roughing up starter James Mardikos to the tune of six runs (all earned) on 9 hits, through just four innings, as CSI found themselves down by a gaping 6-1 hole after just three and a half frames.
Baruch plated four of the six runs in the third inning, after CSI grabbed a 1-0 lead via a Bryan Moreno infield single led to a run after a sac bunt and a pair of wild pitches by Baruch starter Jason Valentin. A Richard Melendez double started the Bearcats third, and two batters later, an Alvin Mata single drove him in to tie the game. After a wild pitch later in the inning scored Jonathan Ovalles, Anthony Melendez stepped to the dish and blasted a two-run double, giving the Bearcats a 4-1 edge.
The lead expanded in the fourth, when RBI-singles by Thomas Daly and Mata ballooned the lead to 6-1. Mardikos was able to escape the inning, but gave way to relief pitcher Jeff Pontebbi to start the fifth. Meanwhile, the Dolphins tried to claw back into the game. An RBI-single by Pat Gale in the fifth scored Moreno to make it 6-2, and Joey Falcone followed with a towering triple to left field, scoring Gale. The Dolphins committed errors in the fifth and seventh innings, but were able to avoid danger, and CSI added another run in the seventh via another Falcone hit to make it 6-4.
But the Dolphins’ woes in the field finally made the squad pay in the top of the eighth inning, as the Dolphins’ three errors led to a pair of Baruch runs which included RBI hits by Richard Melendez and Daly. The extra cushion fueled Valentin on the hill, as the starter went the distance for the win, allowing only a single baserunner in the final two innings to cap the performance.
Baruch outhit CSI, 14-11, as the top five Baruch batters hit a combined 11-for-24 (.458) with five RBI and seven runs scored. Daly and Mata each tallied three hits. Moreno and Falcone both finished 3-for-5 at the dish for the Dolphins.
With both teams having suffered one loss in the tournament, the game forced a one-game playoff for the rights to the CUNYAC Championship. The game will be played at MCU Ballpark at 7:30pm on Tuesday. It’s the second-straight year that the Championship will be decided with a final winner-take-all game between the Bearcats and Dolphins. CSI won the championship last year with a 14-8 win.