Franny Clark photo
BY JOSH GREENBERG
The No. 4 Salisbury University baseball team opened its season with a tough 8-4 loss to the No.1 team in the country, the Cortland State Dragons Saturday at the SU Baseball Field.
Junior Pete Grasso got the start on the mound for the Sea Gulls and wouldn’t allow a hit through three innings, but it was his hitting that made the early statement for Salisbury.
Grasso would come up in the bottom of the third and would roll over on a fastball that was just out of reach of the pitcher. Cortland shortstop Paul Dondero would move to his left, collect the ball and make a wild throw over to first base bringing home a scoring Mike Labriola, along with heads-up base running Kyle Goodwin to give the Gulls a 2-0 advantage.
Grasso would allow the first Cortland hit in the top of the fourth to Fabio Ricci, but Cortland wouldn’t be able to bring home the run keeping the score 2-0 after four.
In the top of the fifth, Grasso remained on the mound after a quick first out. With the bases loaded, a single by Cortland’s Nick Hart would bring the first two runs home for the Dragons.
Sophomore pitcher Connor Reeves then came in for the Gulls, getting a quick strikeout. A crucial error by Salisbury shortstop Scott Ardoin allowed the Dragons to put up another run making it 3-2, Cortland heading into the seventh.
In the bottom of the seventh-inning, the Sea Gulls scratched across the tying run when a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Hrycak moved Tommy Labriola into scoring position. Labriola then would use the sacrifice to bring home Labriola for the 3-3 tie.
In the top of the eighth, AJ Korczynski came on to do the pitching for the Sea Gulls after Ryan Gough allowed a walk to the first batter of the inning. With the count 2-2, Ricci laid down a bunt, but a costly throwing error by second baseman Alex Lipman allowed for the Dragons’ Nick Hart to come around and score, giving Cortland a one run lead.
Two quick strikeouts by Korczynski and a walk brought in another new pitcher; Anthony Vattuone.
Vattuone allowed a walk and was quickly replaced by transfer pitcher, Brad Keith who came on and got a grounder to the right of first baseman Labriola. Labriola flipped the ball to Keith who slipped on first base and dropped the ball, scoring two more for the Dragons making the score 7-3, Cortland.
Grasso came up in the bottom of the eighth and lifted a homerun over the left center wall to bring the Gulls to within 3 but Cortland kept Salisbury scoreless the rest of the game, giving the victory to the No. 1 team.
“We are going to go back out tomorrow and play our game, jump on them quickly and try to manage a split,” sophomore Bryan Sherman said about getting another chance at the Dragons on Sunday.
The Seagulls are in action tomorrow in a rematch with Cortland, with the game set to start at 11 a.m.