Flames Win Pitchers Battle 2-1; McClain O’Connor Makes Game-Saving Diving Catch

Onondaga, NY July 24, 2018: In a classic pitchers’ battle, the Onondaga Flames defeated the Cortland Crush 2-1  in the opener of the NYCBL Eastern Division Championship Playoffs last night at Onondaga Community College Baseball Complex. The close game ended in dramatic fashion when McClain O’Connor (UC Santa Barbara) made a game-saving, diving catch on the last play of the game. The Flames take a 1-0 lead in the best of 3 series going into game two to be played Wednesday at 3:00 PM at OCC with a second game, if necessary at 7:00 PM..

Mike Netzel
Occidental Colleg

Flames starter Mike Netzel (Occidental College) bested Cortland’s Alex Larson (Wisconsin Oshkosh) by the slimmest of margins on this drizzly night with a slick field. Over 7 complete innings, Netzel threw only 88 pitches (60 of them strikes) fanning six and walking only one Crush batter on his way to his third win. In an impressive performance of his own, Crush Starter Larson scattered eight hits over 6 1/3 innings, allowing only two Flames runs, while striking out three and walking one.

After four no-hit innings, the Crush got the first of their three hits off Netzel in the top of the fifth when Alex Flock (Brescia University) hit a bloop single. Flock advanced to second on a fielder’s choice and moved to third on passed ball. Jimmy Tatum’s (Trinity University) single up the middle scored Flock to give the Crush their only lead of the night.

Collin Mathews
Kent State

The Flames answered in the next inning when Bryan Hart (Bryant University) singled, moved to second on an error by the catcher and then scored on a booming double into the left-center field gap by Collin Mathews (Kent State University) to tie the game at 1-1.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Flames scored the game’s only other run on three consecutive singles by Adam Gordon (Cal State LA), Trace Peterson (Lake Erie College) and McClain O’Connor (UC Santa Barbara) and a sacrifice fly by Jack Chernow (Columbia University), that scored Gordon with the go-head run.

Going into the last two innings, Flames’ Pitching Coach Robert Anders (Howard Payne University) called on two of his three All-Star relievers to finish the game. Nick Garcia (Chapman University) shut out the Crush in the eighth, setting the stage for Flames closer Keon Taylor (Cal State LA) .

McClain O’Connor
UC Santa Barbara

After a walk to Zach Kelly (Clark University), the Flames made two consecutive fielding errors on the wet turf to load the bases with no outs. Taylor then struck out Tatum for the first out. In the most dramatic ending to a game this year, Crush pinch hitter Nick Palma (UMASS Boston) smashed a low line drive towards the hole between 3rd and short in what appeared to be a game-tying single. However, it was not to be as shortstop McClain O’Connor dove to his right and made what can only be described as a spectacular catch, caught the ball before it hit the ground, O’Connor, in a heads up play, then jumped to his feet and threw to second basemen Jack Chernow to double Alex Flock trying to return to the bag.

The victory improves the Flames to 29-14 (.674). 

Box Score

Game Date: 07/24/2018 

Cortland Crush  1 AT Onondaga Flames  2
Cortland 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 - 1 4 2 
Onondaga 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 x - 2 9 2

                                 YTD                                   YTD
Cortland           AB  R  H BI   AVG  Onondaga           AB  R  H BI   AVG
Palmo, J CF         4  0  1  0  .222  Chernow, J 2B       4  0  1  1  .250
Ketch, D RF         4  0  0  0  .111  Steffan, M 1B       3  0  0  0  .000
Laviosa, N DH       2  0  0  0  .333  Hart, B 3B          4  1  1  0  .250
 Houts, H PH        2  0  0  0  .000  Mathews, C RF       4  0  2  1  .500
Kelley, Z 1B        3  0  0  0  .143  DiFillipo, A LF     2  0  0  0  .000
Flock, A LF         4  1  2  0  .375  Zurat, J DH         4  0  1  0  .250
McKeon, T 3B        4  0  0  0  .000  Gordon, A CF        4  1  1  0  .250
Tatum, J 2B         4  0  1  1  .286  Peterson, T C       3  0  1  0  .333
Valentino, J C      2  0  0  0  .000  OConnor, M SS       4  0  2  0  .500
 Palma, N PH        1  0  0  0  .000       
Cieszko, A SS       2  0  0  0  .167       
                   32  1  4  1                           32  2  9  2

2B--Flock, A LF (1), Mathews, C RF (1). RBI--Tatum, J 2B (2), TOTALS (0),
Chernow, J 2B (1), Mathews, C RF (1), TOTALS  2 (0). HP--Cieszko, A SS (1),
Steffan, M 1B (1). SF--Chernow, J 2B (1). SB--Palmo, J CF (1), Cieszko, A
SS (1). E--Flock, A LF (1), Valentino, J C (1), Chernow, J 2B (1), Taylor,
K P (1). 
LOB--Cortland 7, Onondaga 11. 
                                                                YTD
                                 IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO  HR     ERA
 Cortland
Larson, A (L,0-1)               6.1   8   2   2   1   3   0    2.84
Mack, B                         0.2   0   0   0   0   1   0    0.00
Viveiros, M                     1.0   1   0   0   2   3   0    0.00
                                8     9   2   2   3   7   0
 Onondaga
Netzel, M (W,1-0)               7.0   3   1   1   1   6   0    1.29
Garcia, N                       1.0   1   0   0   0   1   0    0.00
Taylor, K (S,1)                 1.0   0   0   0   1   1   0    0.00
                                9     4   1   1   2   8   0
PB--Peterson, T. HB--Mack, B (1), Garcia, N (1). SO--Ketch, D 2, Houts, H,
Kelley, Z 2, Tatum, J 2, Cieszko, A, Chernow, J 2, Hart, B 2, Zurat, J 2,
Gordon, A. BB--Kelley, Z, Valentino, J, DiFillipo, A 2, Peterson, T.
BF--Larson, A 28 (28), Mack, B 3 (3), Viveiros, M 6 (6), Netzel, M 25 (25),
Garcia, N 5 (5), Taylor, K 5 (5). P-S--Larson, A 96-61, Mack, B 12-6,
Viveiros, M 31-16, Netzel, M 88-60, Garcia, N 21-13, Taylor, K 21-14. 
T--2:37.