By MIKAEL DeSANTO
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The box score for game one of the 2016 New York Collegiate Baseball League Championship series may say Olean Oiler’s catcher Mark Kolozsvary (University of Florida) tripled home two runs in the sixth inning of the teams 8-6 win over the Syracuse Jr. Chiefs, but the real reason for those runs was a combination of the lights and the sky.
Kolozsvary popped the ball up, seemingly ending the inning, but right fielder Sam Little (Ithaca College) lost the ball in the air and it dropped a few feet away from him, allowing two runs to score and Kolozsvary to scamper in to third. Those runs capped off a six run sixth inning which extended the Oilers lead to 8-1.
Joe Antonio, the Jr. Chiefs’ head coach, explained the situations importance and said it wasn’t anything knew.
“Very important, but it’s happened for both sides, it’s happened to us but it’s happened to the other team when we scored a bunch of runs, I think it was Rome,” Antonio said. “It’s a part of the game, it’s got to be ruled a triple, and as soon as the ball went up there and I looked at Sammy, I said ‘uh-oh’.
On the mound for that play was Brian Markowski (University of Scranton), who had inherited a runner on second with a run already in earlier in the inning. He said while it influenced the outcome, he doesn’t feel it fully tells what happened on the score sheet.
“It was definitely big. It definitely gave them momentum,” Markowski said. “But sometimes the stats don’t reflect how the game actually went.”
Despite being a part of the tough sixth inning, Markowski settled in and set down five straight batters from seventh to the eighth, having pitched two and one-third innings and giving up four runs (one earned) on three hits, two walks and picking up three strikeouts to help the Jr. Chiefs have a fighting chance.
“Obviously, championship series, I’m just giving it all I have,” Markowski said. “This could be the last time I pitch this summer, so I just wanted to lay it all on the line and try to get a win for my team.”
Markowski’s battery mate, Joe DeLuca (College of Saint Rose), placed a heavy importance on Markowski’s role in the team staying competitive when the chips were down.
“It was huge,” DeLuca said. “We rely on our bullpen if our starters aren’t having their best outing. We got in a little bit of trouble, couple errors here and there, couple hits, but he did a (heck) of a job, we can’t ask for anything more out of him.”
Jamie Cangemi, the Jr. Chiefs’ pitching coach. shared the players feelings on how necessary it was for Markowski to perform in such a big spot.
“It was huge, he did a great job man,” Cangemi said. “He kept them off-balance, he kept the score down, I can’t say enough of Brian’s performance, he did an outstanding job, all my pitchers did great today.”
The J-Chiefs offense was able to reward Markowski’s performance, scoring five runs in the bottom of the seventh to cut the lead to 8-5.
Little started the rally with a one-out single and promptly scored on a DeLuca triple. Conner Lafferty (Desales University) made it an 8-3 game with an RBI ground out.
From there Junior Chiefs put together a two-out rally. Zachary Smith (Salve Regina University) was hit by a pitch. Nicholas Roy (Nichols College) followed with a triple of his own to plate Smith, then scored on a Cristobal Ruiz (St. Thomas Aquinas College) single.
John Militano (Salve Regina University) singled, and Anthony Seminaris (Mount San Antonio College) walked to load the bases before Ruiz came home on a wild pitch.
“We were just trying to get something going,” DeLuca said. “The kid almost made a great catch, I’m thankful that he didn’t, but I got a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it.”
Antonio said his offense rode emotion through the rally and their tenacity is a testament to their achievement.
“They got pumped,” Antonio said. “That’s the way they’ve been all year long, they don’t let anything bother them, they really don’t, I’m so proud of these kids. The very first week they just gelled so well. They fight for each other. They back each other. They joke with each other. As far as I’m concerned, they will fight to the end for each other.”
The Junior Chiefs will try to even the series at a game apiece on Sunday when they travel to Olean to take on the Oilers in game two of the NYCBL Championship Series. A 7 p.m. first pitch is scheduled.