The City University of New York Athletic Conference will usher in its 2015 Postseason Baseball Tournament this afternoon, and the College of Staten Island will benefit from a first round home game in the double-elimination tournament. The top-seeded Dolphins will host the No. 4 City College of New York Beavers at 4pm this afternoon, and the Dolphins have one thing in mind: returning atop the field as conference champs.
No. 2 Baruch College will host No. 3 Lehman College in the other opening round game today. The tournament will continue on Friday and Saturday at MCU Ballpark in Brooklyn, NY. Friday’s action consists of three games beginning at 1pm, and Saturday’s competition features the Championship beginning also at 1pm. For exact times and matchups, be sure to consult with www.csidolphins.com. For Head Coach Michael Mauro, the tournament is a fitting end to a tough regular season that features a host of competition in a short window of time
“You want the tournament to be a fitting end to the regular season, but at the same time, with everyone pretty even across the board, you really can’t go by what you’ve done during the regular season,” the coach said. “We tell our players to treat it like just another game, but obviously, everything gets elevated a little bit, and everyone wants to win a championship.”
The Dolphins earned the No. 1 seed by virtue of a terrific 7-1 regular season record within the CUNYAC, a run that included six straight wins, including a pair over the visiting Beavers today. CSI has all the tools to be successful with improved hitting and pitching numbers from a year ago. Still, Mauro, who bagged his sixth CUNYAC Coach of the Year award yesterday, knows that tournament-time is when all the teams play their best, and he expects a close race for the crown and for the Dolphins to play with a bull’s-eye on their backs.
“It’s obvious we are the team to beat with the no. 1 seed and we’ve had a lot of success is the past, which is fine and we are comfortable with that,” he said. “But ultimately, each team has a terrific pitcher and has to come in thinking they have a shot to win this tournament and we respect that.”
Staying sharp is high on the list of things to do for the Dolphins to be successful in 2015. The team has dropped its last four games, and will need the bats to be productive today, as well as the work on the hill. CSI certainly has the make-up to do just that. CSI boasts a total of seven players batting over .300, led by freshman Glenn Glennerster’s .433 pop at the plate, while fellow CUNYAC first-team all-stars Nick Delprete (2B), Frank Smith (OF), and Frank Muzzio (1B/DH) are all batting over .350. Leadoff specialist and second-team all-star Eli Rodriguez is batting .348 with a team-best five homeruns and 15 stolen bases. In all, Mauro is hoping for good scoring production this week, and needs the bats to come up large in big situations when runners are in scoring position.
“This is the strongest hitting team we have had in recent years and we need that to continue. The guys who have been carrying us, need to continue to carry us,” the coach noted. “Everyone in the lineup has a role, whether it’s to get on base, hit for power, drop a bunt, and if everyone does what have to do, we know we can be successful against anyone.”
CSI has the ability to put up gaudy numbers, as evidenced by its 11.6 runs per game average against CUNYAC opponents this season. But Mauro also hopes his pitchers can keep opponents at bay during the tournament. Behind ace Brian Russell and CUNYAC All-Stars Ryan Kennedy, Mike Fitzpatrick and Jeff Manzi, the team has the potential to do just that. As a team CSI sports an ERA of 5.01.
“Pitching is always key because it’s a lot of baseball in a short amount time, so obviously you want your pitchers to step up their game, work efficiently, and go for distance with every game being 9 innings,” Mauro explained. “Listen, we’ve been pitching well all year, so we just need our guys to pitch like we know they can, and if they do, we will be in every game. We are deep enough to know that our guys can do the job.”
Of course, numbers aside, Mauro knows the keys to hoisting CSI’s 17th championship lies in the intangibles: small, fundamentally-sound plays that sometimes escape a boxscore.
“I really just expect our guys to do the little things right,” he said. “As coaches we tell our guys all the time that all the little mistakes we make can add up to a big mistake and that can cost us a game or two. So, if we limit the small mistakes and don’t beat ourselves, we can be successful.”
All legs of the CUNYAC Tournament are FREE for spectators. Entry to games at MCU Ballpark, however, due require a ticket. They are available now HERE. Live statistics for all legs of the tournament are available via the CUNYAC Website HERE, and live audio/video of today’s game is available HERE.