SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 4 Salisbury University baseball team opened the 2016 season on Saturday, falling to No. 1 State University of New York at Cortland in the first game of a two-game weekend series, 8-4, at the SU Baseball Field.
Junior Pete Grasso got the start on the mound for the Sea Gulls and held the Red Dragons hitless through the first three innings, as Salisbury was able to grab an early lead.
In the bottom half of the first, senior Kyle Goodwin ripped a double down the left-field line to lead off the game and look to get the offense going, however Seth Lamando settled down for Cortland to force two fielder's choices and a notch a strikeout.
Senior Tyler Hrycak added a single in the second, before the Gulls broke through in the third. Senior Mike LaBriola led off the inning with a single, before advancing to second on a fielder's choice. After Goodwin was hit by a pitch, a balk moved the runners to second and third with only one out.
The Sea Gulls were able to capitalize on a Red Dragon error with Grasso at the plate, allowing Mike LaBriola and Goodwin to score, giving the team a 2-0 lead.
Cortland notched its first hit in its half of the fourth, and was able to take the lead with its first runs in the fifth. After a two-run double from Nick Hart, Fabio Ricci singled, and a Sea Gull error on the play allowed another run to score for a 3-2 Red Dragon lead.
The teams combined to go hitless from the bottom of the fifth through the top of the seventh, before junior Tom LaBriola led off the bottom half of the seventh with a single through the right side. After a Hrycak sacrifice bunt moved Tom LaBriola up to second, Mike LaBriola came up and drove an RBI, line-drive single through the middle to tie the score, 3-3.
The Red Dragons answered with a four-run inning in their next turn at bat, regaining the lead and taking advantage of five walks and one Salisbury error in the frame.
Grasso drove a home run over the right-center fence for Salisbury's final run in the eighth, before Cortland tallied its final run in the ninth to take the victory.
Mike LaBriola led the way going 2-for-4 at the plate with an RBI, while Grasso added another RBI on his homer.
Grasso also pitched 4 1/3 innings on the mound, striking out five.
The Sea Gulls return to action tomorrow, Sunday, February 21 to complete the two-game series with Cortland. The game time has been moved up one hour, with the first pitch now scheduled for 11 a.m., at the SU Baseball Field.