ITHACA, N.Y. – The Ithaca College baseball team enters the upcoming Liberty League Championship as the No. 3 seed and will travel to Union College on Wednesday for a 3 p.m. contest at Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam, N.Y. Ithaca is 16-11-1 overall and 11-6-1 in the Liberty League, while Union is 11-7 on the season and 9-5 in league action.
This year’s tournament is comprised of the top four teams in the league standings and will be single-elimination format. The highest remaining seed after Wednesday’s contests will host the championship game, which has an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship on the line.
The University of Rochester is the top seed in the tournament after finishing the season 22-8 and 16-2 in conference play and will host Clarkson University at 3:30 p.m. in Rochester. Clarkson is 14-15-1 and went 8-7-1 in the Liberty League.
Ithaca and Union have played one time – an 8-4 win by Union on April 16, 1947. Ithaca’s first season as a varsity program was 1931, while Union began its baseball team in 1860.
INSIDE LOOK AT ITHACA AND UNION:
Ithaca is hitting .300 as a team this season with 219 runs scored, 51 doubles and 15 homeruns. Five Bombers are batting over .300 with at least 49 at bats on the year – Buzz Shirley (.385), Garrett Callaghan (.379), Louis Fabbo (.345), Mike Nauta (.323) and Gil Merod (.323). Jack Lynch sits just below the .300 mark at .295 on the season.
Shirley is tops on the team with 10 doubles and is second in hits with 35. Callaghan leads IC in RBI (34), runs scored (31), walks (27), homeruns (9), slugging percentage (.828) and on-base percentage (.542). Fabbo paces IC with 40 hits, to go along with 29 RBI and 26 runs, while Nauta and Merod each have 21 hits on the season. Lynch has contributed 33 hits, 30 runs, 23 RBI, six doubles, five triples and three homers on the year.
On the mound, Ithaca has two bona fide aces in Shirley and Kyle Lambert. Shirley is 3-0 in seven starts with 42 strikeouts in 37.0 innings pitched with a 3.65 ERA, while Lambert is 5-1 in 48.1 innings with 43 strikeouts, two complete games and a 3.54 ERA.
Out of the bullpen, IC can turn to Charlie Hammel, Garrett Bell or Nate Scott as top options. Hammel is 3-2 with a save in 10 appearances and owns a 3.91 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 25.1 innings pitched. Bell has appeared in a team-high 13 games and is 2-3 with two saves and a 3.58 ERA in 32.2 innings of work. Scott has struck out 21 batters over 22.1 innings with a 3.63 ERA in 10 appearances.
Union hits at a .312 clip as a team, while its opposition is batting .264 through 18 games. After starting the season, 3-4, the Dutchmen have won eight of their last 11 contests to move up to No. 2 in the league.
Colin Kelly has been a major reason for the late-season turnaround, as he is batting .419 on the season with 10 homeruns and 28 RBI. Eight of those 10 round-trippers have come in the last 10 games, including five in the past four.
Matt Toy is also batting over .400 this season at .407, while Jack Koch is swinging at a .393 clip. Joey Palko (.379), Sebastian Pike (.364) and Kevin Chaimowitz (.328) are all hitting over .300, while Noah Schott sits at .286 on the season.
Pitching wise, James Salemme has been dominant in 30.2 innings pitched, as he has struck out 47 batters to go along with a 4-1 record and 3.82 ERA. Ben Mlavsky is 3-0 in four appearances with a 2.84 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 19.0 innings of work. Kevin Patlove has saved two games in six appearances with a 2-0 mark over 12.1 innings.