Onondaga, NY July 3, 2018: The Onondaga Flames, as hot as the weather, roared into first place in the East Division yesterday at Sherrill’s Noyes Park beating the Silversmiths 15-2 in a rain shortened 6 inning game. Flames starter Gunnar Groen (Pepperdine University) went the distance once again as he gained his third win of the season. Groen has the third lowest ERA in the league behind teammate Jimmy Flahive (American International College) and one other. The 15-10 Flames are now 1/2 game ahead of the Syracuse Spartans who were rained out yesterday.

The Flames pitching staff has been the best in the league all season with a strong starting rotation and a fearsome bullpen. The staff has a league best team ERA of 3.07 (next place is 3.97).

Onondaga’s flamethrowers rank first in virtually every statistical category.

  • WHIP (Walks and Hits Per Inning) – 1st
  • Slugging Percentage of opponents – 1st
  • Home Runs given up – 1st
  • Bating Average Against (lowest) – 1st
  • Batters Faced (fewest) – 1st
  • Wild Pitches (fewest) – 1st
  • Hits by opponents (fewest) – 1st
  • Earned Runs given up (fewest) – 1st
  • Runs by opponents (fewest) – 1st

(Data through Rome game July 1, 2018)

Flames hitters have turned up the heat in the last 4 games tallying 53 runs (13.25 average). The blazing pace has been led by Flames’ stalwarts Adam Gordon (Cal State LA), Bryan Hart (Bryant University), Jack Chernow and AJ DiFillipo (Columbia University), Mike Netzel (Occidental College), Jarrod Grossguth (Queens College), Trace Peterson (Lake Erie College) and Collin Mathews (Kent State University).

A big development adding to recent production has been the addition of newcomer McClain O’Connor (USCB) and underclassmen rapidly adapting to wooden bats and the higher level of play.  O’Connor has been tremendous at the plate hitting for average and power as witnessed by his two home runs in the first inning of yesterday’s game – including a grand slam. Late addition Ernie Geraci (Farmngdale State), a good contact hitter, has already contributed with hits and RBIs.

Newcomers to collegiate summer ball Jake Evans (Binghamton University) has lifted his batting average to .286 and his on-base percentage to an impressive .444; freshman Jake Zurat (Canisius) is adjusting rapidly and has 7 hits in his last six games for a .333 average in his last 6 games; redshirt freshman Mike Steffan (Canisius) has also found his stroke going 4 for 11 including 2 doubles in his last three games. Injured (hammy) Mile Ruggerio (Wagner) is back and should be able to contribute during the stretch drive as well.

The Flames 9th ranked team batting average belies the team’s prowess at the plate. The team’s much more important on-base percentage of .397, the result of a league-leading 152 base on balls, puts the Flames in a virtual tie for first with the Spartans (.399). The Flames are third in triples with 13, tied for second in doubles and tied for first in RBIs.

The Flames are poised for a stretch drive for the playoffs. The top three teams in each division will qualify. Number 2 plays number 3 in a one-game elimination and then the winner plays the division champion in a best of three series. Each division winner then plays a three game series to determine the champion for 2018.

The Flames are off today, but resume action tomorrow hosting the Rome Generals at Onondaga Community College baseball complex – game time 7:00 PM.

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