Lynch and Newton drive Niagara in victory over the Ridgemen
Hornell’s Dodgers had their streak. The Syracuse Jr. Chiefs put together their own – the season’s longest. Olean had a nice run. As did Utica. Now seems to be Niagara’s time.
Chane Lynch (Dallas Baptist U.) collected a pair of hits as the Niagara Power defeated the Lake Ontario Ridgemen, 6-4 in New York Collegiate Baseball League action Monday night at Basket Road Field.
Lynch’s triple into left center broke open a 2-1 game as the Power went on to its fifth win in a row.
“It felt good off the bat,” Lynch recalled. “Once it got in the gap, I felt like I could run for a while. When I got to second base, they still hadn’t gotten it in. I was still trucking. I thought I’d go ahead and stretch as far as I could.”
The hit was eerily similar to a recent play at the Basket where Lynch drove a pitch into the gap only to trip coming around second and get caught in a rundown. Eventually, he took advantage of a throwing error to score. Tonight there was no slip and no hotbox.
“I made that one clean,” Lynch said smiling as he recalled the previous game. ”That’s what I told them when I got back in here.”
Shakeel Newton (Genesee CC) scored from first on the play. Tyler Schweigert (Eastern Illinois) beat out a two-out infield single and allowed Lynch to score for a 4-1 lead.
Newton helped the Power increase the lead to 6-1 in the third. The Virgin Islands native plated Jamon Hammel (Huntington) with a one-out triple into right-center.
With the win Niagara climbs within one game of second-place Olean who lost at home to the Geneva Twins. The Power put five games between themselves and fifth-place Wellsville with the top four teams earning berths into the post-season.
“You always want to be the hottest team, especially in this sport, going into the playoffs,” Niagara coach Garret Shively explained. “It feels good to have some momentum at this point. There is still a ton baseball left, and a ton of time to get cold. We want to carry this into the playoffs.”
Jonathan Knapp (Olivet Nazarene) pitched five complete for his fourth win in six decisions. The right-hander struck out two and walked three. He recovered from giving up three runs in the fourth to retire the side in order in the fifth.
“He is mentally tough,” Knapp said of his starter. “After that inning there was no doubt I was going to let him go out there and give us three more hitters. He is probably the most unaffected by things around him.”
Knapp walked two and hit one leading to the Ridgemen three-run fourth. Josh Davis (Whitworth) led with a base on balls and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Cayden Cuniff (East Texas Baptist) reached after being hit by a pitch and crossed the plate on a fielder’s choice. Rob Groeschell (Lower Columbia) walked and came home on a bunt single by Jordan Doherty (Mt. Vernon Nazarene).
Niagara’s bullpen took over from there. David Kaplan (Southern Nazarene) gave up a single to the first batter he faced and retired the next five.
Matthew Gibbs (Purdue) came on and pitched an inning and a third of scoreless ball.
Scott Voyles (Greenville) faced the minimum in the ninth.
Shivley credited his pitching staff.
“Early on we were whole-staffing a myriad of games. At one point, we whole-staffed an entire week. We’ve got our starting pitchers, and they’re no longer on pitch counts. We’re going to get, hopefully, more than five innings every night out of our starting pitcher. Our bullpen has settled into their roles.They’re comfortable.”
Voyles is yet to give up a run in 14 appearances this summer. He has struck out 15 and walked two in 17 innings of work. Opposing batters are hitting .213 against him.
“Voyles is a guy that throws strikes,” Shivley commented. “When you’re upper 80s in this league, and you can locate your fastball, you will be unhittable. It’s a good fastball, and he’s got a little arm-side run on it. He’s going to be tough to beat.”
Lake Ontario scored a run the second. Cuniff led with a walk and came home on a fielder’s choice. Groeschell singled inside the bag at third and Jonathan Burkhardt (East Texas Baptist) bunted aboard to load the bases.
Newton went three-of-four with three runs scored and an RBI.
Lynch added two hits in four trips to the plate with two runs scored and a run batted in.
Burkhardt had two hits.
Joel Belk (Azusa Pacific) took the loss allowing all six runs (four earned) in five innings of work.
Niagara (18-15) has won six of seven. They play Wellsville (13-20) on the road tomorrow before returning home for three straight by the end of the week.
“We’re catching a lot of momentum,” Lynch said of the Power. “We all know our roles, and when we carry those out, good things happen.”
The Ridgemen (10-21) stay at home to play Hornell (21-10), Tuesday night.