April 6, 2013

Cardinals at crossroads in SUNYAC race


---- — PLATTSBURGH — This weekend has become a crucial one for the Plattsburgh State baseball team.

The Cardinals (5-12, 1-5) have put themselves in a hole in the SUNY Athletic Conference regular season and need something good to happen today and Sunday in order to jump back into contention for a playoff spot.

Plattsburgh will play a three-game set at Oneonta, with a 3 p.m. game today and a noon doubleheader Sunday.

The Cardinals are already a disappointing 1-5 in conference play with half of their SUNYAC games remaining after the weekend’s conclusion.

Remaining would be three-game road sets against Brockport and New Paltz and a home three-game weekend with Oswego.

“I hate to say it being just halfway through the conference season,” Plattsburgh coach Kris Doorey said, “but this is make it or break it time for us. Most of our remaining games in the conference are on the road.

“We still control our own destiny like everyone else in the conference. But we’d like to keep our destiny in our own hands.”

Plattsburgh recently dropped three home contests to conference power Cortland, which is ranked second in the country in Division III. But what hurt the Cardinals more was losing two of three to Fredonia at the end of their Florida trip.

“That last loss to Fredonia hurts the most because that’s a game we felt we should have won,” Doorey said. “Our conference is so tough — anyone can beat anyone else on a given day. Oswego beat Cortland (Thursday).

“In our conference, you don’t have that one team where you feel you know you’re going to win. We haven’t had that in a while.”

Oneonta (6-12, 1-0), meanwhile, has played only one conference game due to the weather and that was a 3-1 victory over New Paltz Tuesday.

“Oneonta has a couple of good pitchers, one being Steve Ascher who beat us last year,” Doorey said. “They lost some good players from a season ago, and they’re a young team like we are.”

The Cardinals got a couple of much-needed wins Wednesday when they swept Lyndon State in a non-conference doubleheader — 12-4 and 6-5. Just getting a win to stop the bleeding was important to the team’s mindset.

“Players seem looser now and they’re having more fun,” Doorey said. “That’s the way it should be.”

Doorey is hoping getting one conference win will lead to another.

“We need to win two out of three on a weekend the rest of the way,” he said. “Getting a sweep would be great, but not getting swept is crucial. Everyone else still has to play Cortland and that’s the one silver lining for us. We’re already done with them.

“We need to find a way to string something together and go from there. We have to play every game like it’s our most important game of the season. The first game is Saturday (today) and we have to have that attitude.

“We have Kyle Kelly and Brian Burns pitching for us and if they pitch the way they’re capable of, we’ll be fine.”