NEWARK, N.Y. – Newark and Victor split a pair of 4-1 decisions in a Sunday doubleheader at Colburn Park as the Pilots pulled ahead in the race to earn the final playoff berth in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League's (PGCBL) West Division.
The Pilots (19-28) scored four runs in the first two innings and starting pitcher Daniel Imbro (Hendrix) went the distance for the 4-1 win in Game 1. The visitors took Game 2 by the same score as the RailRiders’ (25-21) pitching staff limited Newark to only one run on four hits.
With Utica (18-28) dropping both games in their doubleheader at Mohawk Valley on Sunday, Newark now sits a half-game ahead of the Brewers in the standings, giving the Pilots the third and final spot in the in the playoffs out of the West Division with three games remaining in the regular season.
Imbro (1-3) put together perhaps his best outing of the season as he allowed only one unearned run in seven compete innings. He gave up six hits and struck out two without issuing a walk on 91 pitches. His only blemish came in the top of the fifth inning when Chris Introcaso (Saint Rose) scored on an RBI single from former Pilot Tommy Wagner (Cornell).
The Newark offense scored one run in the first and three more in the second to give Imbro the lead. Victor starter John Saviano (NJIT) walked Kyle Norman (San Francisco) with one away, and one batter later, Norman came around to score on an error by RailRiders shortstop Aaron Endres (Norfolk).
In the second inning, Will Gorman (RIT) plated Michael Lanza (Bryant) with a base hit. Following a single by Kyle Bartelman (Columbia), Blake Valley (San Francisco) found the gap in left center for a two-run triple, making it 4-0 Newark.
With the lead, Imbro breezed through the Victor side in order in the third, fourth and seventh innings.
Saviano was handed the complete-game loss as he surrendered four runs (three earned) on nine hits and three walks. He also punched out three batters as he fell to 3-4 on the season.
It wasn’t easy but Victor closer Chris Kemp (Indiana Univ. Southeast) recorded his seventh save - tied for the league lead - with a scoreless seventh inning. Free passes to Gorman and Bartelman and a base hit by James Baer (Delta) loaded the bases with one out. Kemp responded by striking out Lanza on three pitches and Valley on four to secure the 4-1 win in the nightcap.
Trailing by two in the bottom of the fourth, Cody Wiktorski (St. John Fisher) doubled and scored on a Willy Yahn (UConn) hit to cut the deficit in half, 2-1. However, three consecutive hits, including a two-run triple by Mark Cardinalli (UC Davis), extended the RailRiders’ lead back to three runs in the fifth.
Austin Wilson (LSU-Alexandria) improved to 2-1 with five innings of three-hit ball for the RailRiders. He struck out four while giving up one run before giving way to Dylan Swetman (Le Moyne) and Kemp out of the bullpen.
Newark starter Clayton Spiker (Saginaw Valley State) was taxed for four runs (three earned) on seven hits and four walks while fanning three batters. The loss was his fifth straight as he fell to 2-6.
The Pilots are home for the remainder of the regular season, beginning with a 7:05 p.m. matchup against the West Division regular-season champions, the Elmira Pioneers (32-15), on Tuesday, July 28 at Colburn Park. Victor, which has secured the second seed in the West, hosts Utica in a doubleheader on Tuesday beginning at 3 p.m.