ONONDAGA, N.Y. - The Onondaga Flames (22-24) defeated the Newark Pilots (19-29) 3-0 on Friday night at Onondaga Community College in a game with huge playoff implications. The Flames, who came into the contest with a three-game lead over the Pilots for the final playoff spot in the West Division, clinched the final playoff spot and knocked the Pilots out of contention.
The Flames tabbed relief pitcher Jared Strait (Wells College) with his first start of the year and were rewarded, as he pitched a brilliant seven scoreless innings. At one point Strait retired 14 consecutive Pilots. Altogether, Strait allowed just two hits while striking out six.
“He went out and gave one of the gutsiest performances of the year," said head coach Ryan Stevens.
Strait was the second relief pitcher to get a start in two days as Dom Spinoso (Fairleigh Dickinson University) pitched game one of the doubleheader on Thursday night.
“Dom Spinoso, [Evan] Reichel, and then tonight Strait, they came out and they pitched with their heart,” said Stevens. “You can’t ask for more, especially when the cards are stacked against you like that.”
On offense the Flames got on the board early, as Stephen Bennett (Canisius College) led off the bottom of the first with a solo home run. Bennett has now hit two home runs in the past two days.
“Coach has put me up in the leadoff spot it’s given me more fastballs, which as many people know I’m more of a fastball hitter,” said Bennett. “Also, I’ve been working a lot on getting my swing back to where it was when I started this year.”
The Onondaga got its other two runs in the fifth inning off and RBI double by Matt Carey (Ithaca College) and RBI single by Kyle Gallagher (Cornell University).
Strait earned his third victory of the year to run his record to 3-1. Closer Matt Bowman (Ithaca College) earned his seventh save of the season as he pitched out of a jam in the ninth inning with runners at the corners.
For Newark, Trevor Rumsey (St. John Fisher College) was given the loss in his PGCBL debut. Rumsey pitched well, as he allowed three runs in six innings of work.
Onondaga will travel to Newark on Saturday for the second game of a home and home with the Pilots.