Oswego State’s pitching staff has gained notoriety this season, but the team’s offense numbers have the team in place for a league title as well.
Heading into the weekend, the Oswego State Lakers are on top of the SUNYAC baseball standings, owning a 20-6 (11-2) record. The Lakers are just hovering over SUNY Cortland, who they lost to last week. Despite the fact that the No.1 Red Dragons lead the SUNYAC in almost every major offensive category, the Lakers sit right behind them. Oswego State has maintained offensive stability to hold them at the top of the SUNYAC standings.
The Lakers rank second in batting average, runs, hits, triples and RBIs behind SUNY Cortland in the SUNYAC. Their team batting average is also 33rd in Div. III.
“We do a lot of little things well,” head coach Scott Landers said.
The Lakers only have five home runs on the year, but being able to put men on base and scatter hits is the reason they have been so efficient.
“I don’t look at the five home runs. I look at all of the doubles and triples compared to last year,” Landers said. “We’re hitting the gaps and we’re running the bases well.”
The players are aware of how important it is to stay consistent hitting the ball in the gaps with a combined 67 doubles and triples in their 26 games this year.
“We’re a gap-hitting team,” first baseman Jordan Giller said. “We’re not a team that tries to hit home runs. If that does happen, great, it’s a bonus. We just get guys on and move them over.”
Giller is batting .438 with 39 hits, 10 doubles, two triples, 24 RBIs and 56 total bases, all of which except RBIs, are best on the team.
One reason that this Oswego State offense is so lethal is the depth it has from batters one through nine in the order.
“Every single guy, back-to-back we have confidence that he’s going to go out there and be on base,” outfielder Myles Kutscher said. “If one guy doesn’t get it done, we have confidence in the next guy. It’s definitely a confidence booster knowing that you have guys out there to pick each other up every single day.”
The Lakers focus on scoring runs any way they can given the situation.
“It’s been a balanced effort throughout the whole season, and we’re really just trying to get it to the next guy and do whatever we can to get the runs in,” Brian Hamilton said.
Landers believes that the lineup could be deeper but the injury-riddled season has limited the team’s depth.
“It’s tough because we’ve had so many injuries on the position-player side… We’re banged up, but they know. We just keep plugging away and whoever is in there has to do the job,” Landers said.
With the offense being able to build sizeable leads, the pitchers and the defense have been able to relax knowing that the offense can consistently score runs.
“It always helps when the pitcher is doing really well,” Giller said.
Along with players returning from injuries, the Lakers have another reason to be optimistic about their offense heading into final five conference games of their season: warmer weather.
With baseballs flying farther when the weather is warmer, the Lakers have a great chance to score even more than they do now and be able to drive the ball deeper into the gaps and potentially over the fence.
Kutscher is confident that he and his team will be able to improve even more, and noted how well it did at the Russmatt Central Florida Invitational in March. Over a span of six games, Oswego State scored 62 runs, and hit four of their five home runs.
“Once the weather gets better, it’ll be easier for the ball to travel,” Giller said.
Up next the Lakers have five straight conference games. The first three will be this weekend against SUNY Fredonia, and then against the No. 1 Red Dragons the following Tuesday, which will be vital in determining the No. 1 seed in the SUNYAC. SUNY Cortland is a half game back with three extra conference games to play.
With a deep offense and a pitching staff that ranks in the top 10 in Div. III in ERA, the Lakers have a great shot of running the table and finishing as the top seed in their conference, something they have never done. Oswego State also can spoil what would be a fifth straight SUNYAC Championship from the Red Dragons.