OSWEGO — The ninth-ranked Oswego State baseball team will look to push its way into the SUNY Athletic Conference playoffs with one of the strongest lineups in the conference.
"This team is tough, and we're mentally focused," said junior outfielder Wes Randall. "We have a great baseball sense." The Lakers are 17-3 overall and 4-2 in SUNYAC play so far this season, and they are riding a nine-game winning streak. Oswego State's red-hot play pushed them up to ninth in the D3baseball.com poll after being ranked 13th the week before.
"We've been pretty consistent. Being 17-3 doesn't surprise me at all," said Head Coach Scott Landers. "I think we're very talented, and to me, on paper, I think we're one of the best teams in the country." As a team, the Lakers are hitting .336 through their first 20 games. They have slugged 13 home runs and have scored 138 runs.
"Like I've told them before, they have to perform on a daily basis," Landers said. "Up to this point I'm very proud of what we've accomplished, but we just have to get better going forward." The Lakers have a tough stretch coming up in their schedule. In their next 14 games, Oswego State has eight SUNYAC games, including two against a very good Cortland team April 22 and 23 in Oswego.
"We have four weeks of conference play. We have to battle," Landers said. "We'll go through Brockport, and then Cortland, before ending at Oneonta. The season goes fast. We have to be ready every day whether its midweek or the weekend going forward." Junior infielder Eric Hamilton has been a big part of the Lakers' success thus far. Hamilton is hitting .423 with a team-leading nine home runs and 29 RBIs.
"From a hitter's standpoint, Eric is off to a tremendous start," Landers said. "Everything that we have talked about for him to be better than he has been in the last two years, he's done it." Randall is another major contributor. He is hitting .425 with four triples, a team-high 23 runs scored, and 19 RBIs.
"Wes Randall has been a great table-setter for us. We've played 20 games, and he's got 19 RBIs from the leadoff spot. I would say there's not another guy in the country with that ratio," Landers said. "To me those two guys have kept us going from an offensive standpoint." Oswego State's pitching has been just as effective.
The staff has allowed opposing teams to hit only .250, while striking out 116 batters through 169 innings.
Freshman Brian Nolan, sophomore Robert Donnelly, senior Miles Kelly, and junior Tim Cronin have three victories apiece.
"We're very deep on the mound and we're pitching great right now. I can't ask much more out of this group of guys," Landers said.
The Lakers showed last year that they were an emerging power. Oswego State finished 27-13 overall and played in the NCAA Division III Tournament.
They have carried that confidence and momentum into the current campaign, which continues with a three-game series at Plattsburgh today and Saturday.
Landers said the team's fast start and national ranking is nice, but there's a lot of work left to be done.
"Seventeen and three is good. They've worked hard in the offseason, they've worked hard in the preseason, and they've worked hard up to this point. But, it really doesn't matter what you do in the first 20 games," he said. "It matters what we do in our games coming up."