After dropping their opening round game of the 2012 CUNYAC/MCU Baseball Championship, the College of Staten Island men’s baseball team avoided elimination on Friday, defeating both Lehman College and John Jay College at MCU Ballpark, to earn the right to face top-seeded Baruch in Saturday’s Championship.  CSI came from 7-1 down to defeat Lehman, 10-7, then thwarted the Bloodhounds, 8-1, in the pair of wins.  CSI will need to defeat Baruch twice to win the championship, while the Bearcats need take only a single game to be crowned champs.

In Game One, Lehman was four innings from extending its season for at least one more game.

It turns out that was four innings too many to give the College of Staten Island as the Dolphins scored nine runs to erase a 7-1 deficit and lived to play again while the Lightning was knocked out of the CUNYAC Championships.

“The game was a battle. When we threw strikes, we did well. No matter what team we play we are ready to take them on,” said CSI skipper Mike Mauro. “I don’t know who I am pitching yet but I feel confident in all my pitchers.” 

Friday’s game pitted the best of both staffs, Wilfredo Gonzalez from Lehman and Richard Anderson from CSI, going head to head on the mound.  And over the first four innings, the game followed the script of a pitcher’s duel with Anderson allowing only a single hit, while Gonzalez allowed two and the game’s only run, an RBI groundout in the second inning.

But in the fifth the Lightning went on the attack.  After loading the bases despite having only Michael Liang’s leadoff single leave the infield, the Lightning tied the game on Socrates Peralta’s single through the right side.  Following a strikeout by Christian Fadul, both Frank Almonte and Onix Mejia were hit by Anderson to force home a run each time to give Lehman the 3-1 lead.  Edwin Marrero then walked to force home another run.

With the lineup turning over, Liang added his second hit of the inning, an RBI single to plate another run.  A two-run single by David Painter brought two more home to push Lehman’s lead to 7-1.  The Lightning nearly continued its big inning, but Freddy Parra’s shot to left field was run down by James Lewis to end the onslaught.

CSI narrowed its deficit in the bottom of the inning, scoring three runs without the aid of a single hit as Gonzalez lost his feel for the strike zone and walked four Dolphins, the last of which forced home a run.  He also uncorked a wild pitch and was made to work around a Lehman error by Peralta at second base.  The Lehman freshman hung tough, though, as he induced Lewis to pop to short with the bases loaded.  Gonzalez would work into the sixth before he was removed with one out for reliever Gabriel Levine-Justicia. 

Justicia promptly allowed Will Difede’s RBI single, which drew the Dolphins to within 7-5, before getting out of the inning.  A strong seventh inning by Justicia kept the Lehman lead intact.

In the eighth, however, the Lightning’s defense let it down.  Three Lehman errors combined with three CSI hits and some ineffective relief ended up costing the Lightning five runs and the lead as the Dolphins forged ahead 10-7.

Down to its final three outs, the Lightning put its first runner on when Stephen Valdes was hit by a pitch.  Lehman was unable to muster anything more, though, as the Dolphins wrapped up the comeback win.

In the loss the Lightning collected seven hits, led by Liang’s 3-for-4 day at the plate.  Justicia was tagged with the loss while CSI’s Chris Matusiewicz picked up the victory.

“Even though we were down, I was confident that any second we could score 7 or 8 runs in an inning. I just wanted to keep us in it,” claimed Matusiewicz after the win.

In the second game, CSI scored in the first four innings of the contest to fly out to a 7-0 lead.  Frank Smith got CSI started with a sac fly in the game’s first inning against JJC starter Corry Harper, then, in the second frame, CSI doubled their lead via a Luis Ortiz RBI-single.  Smith came around to score to give CSI a 3-0 lead in the third, this time via a JJC error in the field.

The lead would be enough for CSI starter MIke Van Pelt, but for extra measure, CSI exploded for four runs in the fourth inning to stake a 7-0 lead.  A two-RBI triple by Sal Todaro punctuated the frame, followed by an RBI single by Francis Torres, scoring Todaro.

From there, CSI kept JJC at bay, getting consistently out of trouble as the Bloodhounds left 12 runners on base.

The win by the Dolphins pits them against Baruch, which is a perfect 2-0 in the tournament thus far.  This is the third straight year the teams are meeting in the final.  First pitch is scheduled for 4pm on Saturday at MCU Ballpark and admission is free of charge.

– Excerpts of this story courtesy of Lehman Sp