A mud-brown Laker Field sat underneath a gray sky on Wednesday as Oswego State lost in seven innings to St. John Fisher, 7-4, and saw game two of the double-header postponed due to rain.
Head coach Scott Landers was left unsatisfied by both the team’s performance, as well as his own.
“(Wednesday) was a wet day, and we had to fight the conditions,” Landers said. “No excuses. We take every game seriously and we didn’t execute. And that’s my fault.”
Oswego State (10-10, 3-4 SUNYAC) have now lost four straight games, and have been outscored 25-9 over that stretch. Landers and his team enter the heart of their conference schedule Friday, playing eight SUNYAC games in eight days.
“We have to get back to playing our style of baseball,” Landers said. “Throwing strikes, playing defense and putting pressure on teams instead of playing from behind. That’s what we were doing in Florida, but it hasn’t carried over up north.”
Oswego State’s offense was unable to bother St. John Fisher (14-7) starter Sean Badger, who earned his fourth victory of the season with five innings of work, giving up only two runs. Badger (4-1, 4.35 ERA) has allowed three earned runs or fewer in every start this season.
“He came with fastballs and it was working, so why change it,” Oswego State senior second baseman Mike Stark said. “He got ahead and had the confidence working for him. He was going in and out to both righties and lefties. We just didn’t pull through it.”
“He threw a good amount of strikes and changed location with his fastballs,” Oswego State junior pitcher Pat Brown said. “He threw his curve just enough to make you respect it.”
Junior Thor Miller started for the Lakers on the cold, dreary afternoon. Miller (1-1) gave up two earned runs (three total) and walked four batters over three innings. He was relieved by Brown after surrendering the lead, 3-2, in the top of the third.
Brown had his longest appearance of the season, throwing three innings throughout indecisive and varying spurts of rain. He constantly had to check the ball for wetness, with the umpire changing out every ball that touched the dirt or was hit into play, which drastically slowed the rhythm of the game. Brown allowed four runs on six hits, one walk and a hit-by-pitch.
“I knew it wasn’t raining too bad and the mound was still in good shape, so it didn’t really faze me,” Brown said. “That’s just part of being a pitcher sometimes.”
The combination of rain and the low
temperature stunted the Lakers at the plate and in the field. Lakers outfielders mishandled several hit balls to the outfield, and the offense stranded eight men on base.
“It’s hard to blame the weather,” Stark said. “(The Cardinals were) just as cold as we were. But it is not the type of weather we want obviously.”
“We need to start showing up in the field with the same intensity every day,” Brown said. “Regardless of whether it’s a conference game or how bad the weather may be. There’s no way we should be a .500 team, and now we have to play our way out of it to prove it.”
Stark went 0-for-3 at the plate but reached base on a walk in the first inning and scored. He also drove in senior Andrew Lazzaro during the second inning on a ground out to the shortstop. Stark is leading the team with 15 RBI and 15 runs scored, though his batting average of .296 is a bit under where Stark would prefer.
“I’ve been struggling at the plate a little bit,” Stark said. “But you have to do anything you can to help the team. Coach (Landers) has been stressing good outs lately. Just trying to do whatever I can.”
Stark tied the game at one when he scored off a single by sophomore Brian Hamilton, and his RBI in the second inning gave the Lakers a 2-1 lead. But three consecutive scoreless innings put the Lakers in a 7-2 hole. Oswego State scored a pair of runs in the sixth inning, but were shut out in the seventh.
“We hit decent against their reliever (Corey Upright), but then they brought their closer (Tom Dybas) in the seventh, and didn’t have any success against him.” Landers said.
Lazzaro finished 2-for-3 on the day with a pair of runs scored and an RBI. Junior Mike McMullen went 2-for 4 for the Lakers. Senior Alex Jurczynski scored in the sixth inning after reaching on a walk.
Freshman Josh Martin threw the final inning for the Lakers, allowing just one hit with a strikeout. He has yet to allow an earned run in his first 4.1 innings with the team.
No reschedule date has been announced for the postponed game between the two teams, but the Lakers know they cannot afford to lose focus on the games ahead with such a crucial juncture of conference play right in front of them.
“Just take it day by day,” Brown said. “It’s frustrating with all these cancelations, but there’s not much you can do about it. Just show up to the field ready to play and bring it for the day, whatever it may bring.”
“(Wednesday) is over,” Landers said. “We have to prepare for this weekend.”
Oswego State hosts SUNY Oneonta Friday at 3 p.m. and Saturday for a doubleheader beginning at 12 p.m. with the rubber match at 2:30 p.m.