By JOHN CORYER
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Not all was disappointing for the Plattsburgh State baseball team on its annual trip to Florida.
Despite finishing with a 3-7 record in the RussMatt Invitational to fall to 3-9 overall, the Cardinals received several strong pitching performances.
The pitching will need to be even better this weekend when Plattsburgh opens its home schedule with a three-game set with SUNY Athletic Conference power Cortland, currently the No. 2-ranked team in the country in Division III.
The two teams play a doubleheader today, beginning at noon, at Chip Cummings Field and have a single game at noon on Sunday.
Kyle Kelly (0-2, 3.00 ERA), Brian Burns (2-0, 0.98 ERA) and Corey Grossman (0-2, 1.13 ERA) will likely get the pitching starts for the Cardinals.
“We’re excited about our pitching,” Plattsburgh coach Kris Doorey said. “When you get good pitching, you usually win if you can score some runs.
“When the pitching is bad early in the season, it tends to stay that way. But we got great performances from different guys in Florida. Kelly, Burns and Grossman all pitched well, as well as Scott Orr (0-1, 0.00 ERA). We had five starters who pitched well.”
The Red Dragons (13-4, 3-0), however, will provide an even greater test.
Cortland has nine regulars batting .300 or better and three — Zack Graczyk (.438), Max Rosing (.412) and P.J. Rinaldi (.404) — who are hitting over .400. Brian Barry and Chris Jackson are both at .344.
“Cortland is Cortland,” Doorey said. “They’re the best team in the league, the best team in the region and arguably the best team in the country. They are very solid offensively.”
The Red Dragons are 3-0 in the conference following 8-1, 5-1 and 6-2 victories over New Paltz State.
“We have to keep the games low-scoring ones,” Doorey said. “We have to play our best baseball in order to beat them.
“Our players are always excited to play Cortland. For Cortland, it’s probably just another game against an upstate New York team.”
Plattsburgh opened its conference season by losing two of three to Fredonia to close out the Florida trip.
The Cardinals are struggling offensively. Plattsburgh has scored three runs or less in nine of its games and Doorey is still searching for answers.
“Offensively, we’re not going very well right now,” he said. “And we’re going to see better pitching this weekend than we did in Florida.
“I’m more disappointed with our players’ approach to hitting. They get tensed up at the plate and look for others to get it done. Hitting is contagious and we didn’t get any breaks in Florida.
“Our players, however, look up to the challenge of playing Cortland and we will need to scratch and claw for everything we get.”
Brian Latulipe (.317) and Mike Mulvihill (.316) are the only regulars for Plattsburgh with .300 or better batting averages.
“Everybody in the conference has to play Cortland at some point,” Doorey said. “Anyone in the conference can beat anyone. The difference between us and Cortland is that they’re more athletic than we are.
“We will need to play at a maximum level.”
Doorey didn’t get the answers he was looking for in Florida
“Nobody has stepped up for us offensively and we will be changing the lineup again this weekend.”