Heading into the 2014 season, the Oswego State baseball team had plenty of reasons to be confident about its offense. However, the biggest question mark heading into the season was the Lakers pitching staff.
After losing First Team All-SUNYAC starting pitcher Dan Erne to graduation after the 2013 season, head coach Scott Landers had to rely on a younger, less experienced pitching staff to carry Oswego State in 2014. Erne, who went 6-1 with a 2.25 ERA in nine starts during the 2013 season, left some big shoes to fill, but the Lakers have been pleasantly surprised with their new pitchers, who have certainly proved themselves so far this season.
“Even though we lost a lot of good innings from last year, we had quality arms that were returning and quality arms that we brought in,” Landers said. “I think we have a better collection of arms now, we’re just young, so that made it more of question mark because they hadn’t been out there yet. We have confidence in them and so far so good.”
The star of the Lakers’ starting rotation so far this year has been junior transfer Brendyn Karinchak. After two years pitching as a reliever at Division I Central Connecticut State University, Karinchak transferred to Oswego State where he has enjoyed immediate success on the mound.
In six starts as a Laker, the southpaw leads the staff in nearly every statistical category, sporting a 4-1 record to go with a 1.40 ERA and 34 strikeouts. Just last week, Karinchak was named SUNYAC Pitcher of the Week after throwing his third complete game of the season, this time shutting out SUNY Oneonta while allowing only one hit.
Freshman Tim Cronin is another starter who has stepped up in a big way for Oswego State. Cronin is undefeated on the season with a 4-0 record and sports a 3.00 ERA. He has only walked three batters during his six appearances, four of which have been starts. Karinchak and Cronin, who both happen to be graduates of Valley Central High School in Walden, have the second and tenth lowest ERAs in the conference, respectively.
“[Karinchak and Cronin] go out there and pitch their butts off and keep us in games, but at the same time, most of our guys have done that,” Landers said.
Fellow Lakers starting pitchers Miles Kelly and Ryan Brinkman have also contributed to the success of Oswego State’s pitching staff this season. Kelly has four wins to go with a 4.36 ERA and two complete games in six starts this season, while, despite not having a win on the year, Brinkman has a respectable 3.31 ERA over his three starts.
Not only has the starting rotation been exceptional, but so has the bullpen. The Oswego State relievers have helped the Lakers to a 14-2 record when leading after the fifth inning.
As a whole, the Lakers pitching staff has a 4.28 ERA, which is third best mark in the SUNYAC.
The Oswego State pitchers have also allowed fewer runs than any other team besides SUNY Cortland, while walking fewer batters than any other team in the nation.
“The one really good thing about our pitching staff as a whole is we lead the country in fewest walks per game,” Landers said.
“That is quite an establishment to this point, but at times we also throw too many strikes and that can get us in trouble. We pound the zone, let our defense play behind us and it’s been somewhat successful.”
The Lakers pitching staff has backed up a strong Oswego State offense, which sits near the top of the conference in team batting average (.304) and team on-base percentage (.383).
The pitching staff, as well as the offense, will look to continue to dominate as they host Ithaca College in their first home game of the season this Wednesday at 4 p.m. SUNY Plattsburgh is set to come to Laker Baseball Field this weekend for a three-game series before RIT visits for a doubleheader on April 29, bringing Oswego State’s regular season schedule to a close.
The Lakers currently sit in third place in the SUNYAC with a 9-6 conference record (18-8 overall) as the regular season nears its end.