The men’s baseball team came away with the CUNYAC Championship on Saturday, April 28, after beating the College of Staten Island Dolphins with the score of 5-3. The game was played at MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones.
This is Baruch’s second CUNYAC Championship in four years, they last won it back in 2009. The Bearcats ended the season with a 21-17 record, the most wins they ever had in a single season.
Senior and team captain Thomas Daly was ecstatic to be able to end his student athlete career with a title. “I have to say this was the highlight of my baseball career at Baruch, going out with a Championship, with some of the greatest guys I’ve ever played with,” Daly said. Rather than taking credit himself, he praised the team for their efforts. “Every member of my team had a role in reaching our goal. It was a complete team effort, I couldn’t be prouder of my guys,” he said. “I really want the freshmen to remember this forever cause it does not happen every year.”
Just a week before the championship game, Baruch and CSI split a double header. Daly claims that the Bearcats didn’t change much of their game plan coming in to the championship game. “We really didn’t make any adjustments against CSI, they are a great team. The program over there is always strong and I give them a lot of credit but this year was our year and I knew it coming in,” he said. Daly gave Baruch starting pitcher Jesus Izarra a lot of credit for the win. “I would also say that we have a guy named Jesus Izarra who is just dominating and I just want to thank God he’s on my team.”
Baruch’s offense got off to a great start in the bottom of the first inning. Their first three batters, seniors Steve Hession, Alvin Mata and Daly all singled. Daly’s hit gave the Bearcats the lead. On the next play Mata scored on a wild pitch to give Baruch a 2-0 lead. In the top of the third inning, Izarra gave up two runs on a double to center field to tie the game. Despite this setback Izarra did not lose his rhythm and came away with the win and a quality start. He pitched a complete game and threw 122 pitches. He gave up seven hits, walked three batters and struck out five.
There were no more runs and very few hits in the fourth inning and the top of the fifth, but in the bottom of the fifth the Bearcats offense exploded again. Mata stepped up to the plate with two runners on and two outs. He swung at the first pitch he saw and knocked the ball out of the park for a three-run home run. When Daly stepped up as the next batter and doubled, the Dolphins decided to make a pitching change. The new pitcher managed to get Staten Island out of the inning when he made sophomore Yancy Taveras ground out to third.
Both teams went completely hitless in the sixth and seventh innings. The only batter who managed to get on base was Hession who worked the count full, fouled the ball three times and finally drew a walk. In the eigth inning things seemed to go smoothly for Izarra but after getting two quick outs he ran into trouble. First he gave up a double and then an RBI-single. Luckily, the Bearcats pitcher regained his composure and struck out the last batter on three pitches. After a less than fruitful bottom eigth inning, in which only Daly and sophomore John Yuksesol reached base on a single and fielder’s choice respectively, it all came down to the top of the ninth inning.
Izarra needed only five pitches to clinch the title for Baruch. This was Izarra’s fifth complete game of the season and his record improved to an undefeated 7-0. His ERA ended up at 3.19, the third lowest on the team behind freshman Paul Perez with 2.35 and freshman Daniel Monroe with 0.00 (although Monroe only pitched 6.2 innings while Perez pitched 57.1 and Izarra pitched 53.2)
Amongst the hitters it was Daly who performed best. He ended the season as team leader in batting average (.400), hits (60), RBI (60) and along with Hession he led the team in home runs (6). “If I were to reflect on my year I would have to say it was one of my best,” he said. “But I still left 20 guys on base which I’m not too proud of.”
He has no doubt that the remaining Baruch players will be able to repeat once the season starts up next year. “This team was really special and even though a lot of team leaders and seniors will be leaving, I have faith in the remaining guys that they can get the job done.”