The Cayuga Men's Baseball Team set the foundation for a strong future in the 2019 season, finishing fourth in the Eastern Division and earning a spot in the postseason.
In their inaugural season, the Spartans finished with a 20-16 overall record and a 14-12 mark against Region III opponents, earning a 4thseed and a best-of-three playoff series against regional power Niagara County Community College. Cayuga defeated the Thunderwolves 11-7 in the first game before dropping the next two contests.
Despite coming up short in the playoffs, the Spartans believe they're set to compete in the seasons ahead, with the majority of the roster eligible to return for the 2020 season.
"Overall, I'm very pleased with how we played this season. The guys did a fantastic job laying the foundation for us to build on moving forward," said Coach TJ Gamba. "They bought into the philosophies we teach, both in terms of baseball and academics. I loved their effort. They really came together, and we had some great individual performances."
At the start of the season, Gamba said the expectations for the team were to keep their focus on the challenges directly in front of them —having quality at-bats, making quality pitches executing in the field and on the basepaths.
However, as the season moved forward and the team strung wins together, those expectations increased.
"They did a great job with that approach. During the season some things evolved quickly, from executing the fundamentals to doing damage as far as wins and losses go," said Gamba. "The guys bought into our approach, and to their credit they had wins against some of the stronger teams in the region."
The Spartans notched wins against the two top teams in the region, Niagara (38-10 overall record) and Herkimer (35-6-2), and also defeated strong teams in Hudson Valley (22-11) and Genesee (29-20).
The Spartans finished the regular season strong, winning five of their final seven contests despite a short pitching rotation and several players playing out of position defensively.
"There's a lot of things you can tip your hat to with this team, but the thing that stands out the most is how mentally tough they are. That's the one characteristic that I could use to describe them. They overcame a lot during the season, and really bought into what you need to be to play this game well," said Gamba.
Sophomore Adam Lupo was named the team's Most Valuable Player, batting .394 with three home runs. Sam Jenkins led the Spartans with five home runs and was fourth on the team with a .353 batting average, while Matt Spicer led Cayuga with a robust .442 average.
Jenkins was named the team's Offensive Player of the Year, Spicer received the Mr. Consistency Award and Eric Gatewood received the Best Teammate Award. Spicer was also named second-team All-Region as an infielder.
Gamba said he expects about 10 players to return for next season, and said the team's success in 2019 has helped build a reputation for the growing program.
"We're on a much better track with a full year of recruiting, and our reputation and success this season has helped," he said. "We made some noise this season. They know we're here."