Pioneers pick up crucial series victory over Canton

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Anthony Cittadino, Assistant Copy Editor 

The Utica College baseball team has picked up steam over the course of the second half of their season, winning six out of their last nine games. This past weekend the Pioneers traveled to SUNY Canton for a three-game series, and UC was able to take two games.

Saturday’s double-header consisted of split victories. The early game began with senior Josh Webb getting the start for the Pioneers. Webb pitched five innings, striking out five and giving up three earned runs.

“It was alright. I left a few pitches up over the plate and lost the strike zone for a bit but it was decent,” Webb said of his performance. “Winning against Canton was huge this weekend because now we don’t have so much pressure on ourselves with these last few games left.”

The offense for the Pioneers started in the top of the second with freshman phenom Tim Quinlan, as he smoked a double down the right field line scoring senior Matt DeMartino.

“It feels really great to win against a conference team late in the season,” Quinlan said. “We started off pretty slow, but it’s good to see our hard work paying off now that we are so close to our goal of making Empire 8’s.”

Senior Adam Pexton came to the plate later in the second and grounded into a fielder’s choice, scoring two more runs. Canton wasted no time in the bottom of the third, scoring two runs to make it a one-run game. The Kangaroos kept at it in the fifth and sixth innings as they took the lead from UC 4-3 going into the final inning.

Canton gave UC a gift as sophomore Jake Ryan scored the tying run on a wild pitch. The game went into extra innings.

With runners on first and second and two out in the eighth inning, Pexton came to the plate and smashed a single into left field, scoring the eventual game-winning run.

The late game went to Canton as they beat the Pioneers 9-4. DeMartino went 2 for 4 and sophomore JT Ross went 1 for 4 with two RBIs, but it was not enough for the Pioneers.

Despite the one loss, DeMartino felt great about the series as a whole.

“It felt great winning another series, especially against a conference opponent,” he said. “We went in trying to win the series and that’s exactly what we did. Now we are in control of our destiny for the playoffs and we couldn’t be happier.”

Sunday’s nine-inning matchup went in favor of the Pioneers, as UC walked away with a 9-8 win.

The scoring started in the top of the second with a Pioneer run on a pass ball. Canton regained its composure in the bottom half with three runs of their own.

However, the third inning was all UC.

With a man on first, DeMartino came to the plate and tied the game at 3 with one swing as he blasted one over the left field wall.

“I think based on my individual performance I did very good,” DeMartino said. “There were opportunities that I wish I could have gotten a big hit in that given situation but that’s the way baseball works. What I’m happy about is that we won.”

The Pioneers went on to score six more in the third inning to capture a 9-3 lead and later went on to win 9-8.

The Pioneers are now 8-18 overall and 6-9 in Empire 8 standings, which puts them into fourth place for the playoff picture. UC is not finished yet. They have seven games left with two conference games involved.

The Pioneers return to conference action on Wednesday, as they will face off with Elmira before playing St. John Fisher on Friday.

Featured image; Junior JT Ross had three RBIs over the weekend as the Pioneers took two out of three from SUNY Canton. With the wins, UC greatly improved its chances of qualifying for the Empire 8 conference tournament. Photo by Jeff Pexton.

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