PLATTSBURGH -- The Plattsburgh State men's baseball team hasn't lived up to its preseason expectations.

That can all change this weekend, however.

The fourth-seeded Cardinals tangle with host and top-seeded Cortland this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in the opening round of the State University of New York Athletic Conference Tournament.

"I like the make-up of our team," said Cardinals' head coach Kris Doorey. "At times this season, I've been disappointed with our effort. But, that shouldn't be a problem at all this weekend.

"We've left a lot of men on base, especially lately. And, we haven't come up with the big hit or made the play in the field we've needed at times. That has held us back.

"But, we've also had our good moments and everyone is 0-0 right now."

Today's first game in the double-elimination event, at noon, has third-seeded Brockport (21-15-1, 7-7) opposing second-seeded Oneonta (23-14, 9-5). Then, it's the Cardinals (15-19, 7-7) against the Red Dragons (33-3, 14-0).

"Cortland is ranked third in the country and has won 29 games in a row," Doorey said. "They haven't lost since returning from their southern trip.

"They are aggressive and you have to limit their big inning. They are good at getting a guy on base and then scoring him. Offensively, they do the right things and they've won a lot of close games, which is the mark of a very good team."

Despite the difference in record between the two teams, Doorey is optimistic -- especially after two hard-fought games at Cortland during the SUNYAC regular season where the Cardinals lost 6-3 and 5-4 on April 13.

"If we pitch well, we can win," he said. "We played Cortland two tough games down there earlier this season and we got strong pitching efforts from Matt Kelley and Mark Sidoti."

"If we can get good pitching again and catch the ball, we have a good chance at winning . We could have played better defensively the first time we played them.

"You always want to beat the best team and Cortland is the best team in our conference."

In recent SUNYAC Tournaments, the Cardinals, who are still looking for their first win at the event since their return to a baseball program, have played their first opponent tough before losing and then suffered a letdown in their second game.

But, unlike past years, the loser of the Cortland/Plattsburgh game will not play again today. The loser plays at 10 a.m. Saturday in an elimination game, while the winner plays at 1 p.m.

"We have to win three games to be SUNYAC champion," Doorey said. "We're going to do everything we can to win the first game. The players are excited.

"Obviously, Cortland is the team to beat. But, the other three teams are pretty close to one another. Oneonta, which has been playing well late in the season, may have the best pitching."

Doorey will go with Kelley on the mound against the Red Dragons.

"That was Matt's first start of the season when he pitched against Cortland earlier this year," Doorey said. "We'll have Mark (Sidoti) or (Craig) Bujold ready to go if we need them."

Kelley is currently 1-2 on the season with a 1.78 earned-run-average and three saves.

Plattsburgh State has eight players hitting .300 or better -- Zack Welch (.394), Todd Hughes (.374), Kyle Kowalowski (.360), Erik Schwind (.337), Kelley (.337), Billy Davis (.333), Kevin Gent (.321) and Jared Jarvis (.315).

Hughes leads the team with three home runs, while Welch is tops with 29 runs-batted-in and 30 runs scored.

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