OSWEGO — The Oswego State baseball team was in the beginning stages of building a dynasty after winning its third-straight SUNY Athletic Conference title during the 2019 season.
The season included a 29-14 record with a 10th NCAA Division III tournament appearance sprinkled in.
The 2020 campaign was meant to be a year where the Lakers would continue their reign by gunning for a fourth crown in as many years.
Compiling just a 6-3 record in 2020, however, the Lakers’ season was abruptly canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fast forward to 2021. Oswego State will have a season starting later than usual, with fewer games.
The Lakers kick off their regular season with a doubleheader Saturday against Brockport.
“It’s been a slow process, especially when we’re getting through being able to start,” Oswego State coach Scott Landers said.
Despite some major setbacks, the Lakers are geared to add another SUNYAC championship trophy to their total of 15 in the program’s history.
“It’s coming together and we’re feeling a bit more normal,” Landers said. “I like where we’re at and the talent we have on the mound and at each position.”
Landers said his team has come back with emotions running high, adding they’re very excited and physically strong. But the 10th-year coach said his players needed to get into better baseball shape.
“From that vantage point, the pitchers are way behind with their stamina, velocity and general baseball knowledge,” Landers said. “It’s been tough on the older guys of this team. They’re getting there, so they’ll catch up.”
The Lakers have plenty of veteran presence on the mound.
Senior Ronald Loomis and junior Kieran Finnegan each went 2-0 in 2020 before the season came to a close. In 2019, Finnegan had a 3-2 record with a 3.47 earned-run average and 23 strikeouts.
Other pitchers like graduate students Jake Terrill, Ben Wilcox and Mike Di Salvo could potentially complete Oswego State’s rotation, Landers said. The trio received as much time on the mound as they could in 2020. Wilcox and Di Salvo in 2019 didn’t see a ton of opportunities on the bump. Terrill, however, went 2-0 with a 3.97 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 34 innings pitched in 2019.
“I don’t know what the rotation is going to be with all of the games spread out, but we’re always a handful of starters deep,” Landers said.
Landers is looking to senior infielder Kyle Lauria (8 RBIs and a .370 average in 2020), senior infielder Ryan Weiss (.403 average with 2 home runs and 22 RBIs in his career), junior infielder Paul Tammaro (.275 average with 15 RBIs in career), sophomore infielder Ryan Enos (.337 average, 30 doubles, 10 home runs and 65 RBIs in career) and senior outfielder Brendon Frank to be “top-tier players not only on the field, but at the plate.”
Landers had high praise for Frank, adding that he “can cover the entire outfield and is a key leadoff hitter.”
In terms of new additions this season, Landers has been impressed with infielder Jacob Levine. A freshman from Massachusetts, Levine is the son of Oswego State Class of 2014 Hall of Famer Mark Levine (.442 career average with a total of 167 RBI and 36 doubles), who helped the Lakers complete a three-peat in SUNYAC championships from 1983-1985.
Landers said he’s confident freshman lefty pitcher Jai Sharma will “make his way into the rotation further into the season.” He added that he’s “excited about the young guys on the mound,” including freshmen Devin Campbell, Jake Danyluk, and Richie Paul.
The biggest losses to graduation for the Lakers were catcher Lukas Olsson and Rocco Leone. Olsson finished his career with a .318 average, 11 home runs, 79 RBIs and 23 doubles. Leone capped his career with 15 doubles, 44 hits and 26 RBIs.
Landers is giving senior catcher Dylan Frawley, Olsson’s backup for three seasons, a chance behind the dish.
“Dylan will step in there this season,” said Landers, who added that there is depth at catcher with junior Nicholas Ungar, and freshmen Anthony Barone and Greg Carullo.
As for competition in the SUNYAC this season, Landers said it’s tough to judge with players coming back for an extra year with the pandemic and programs bringing in more talented players.
“When it comes to the end of the season I’m optimistic that we’ll be in tip-top shape,” he said. “We have to worry about ourselves and have a good feeling of what we can do so we can repeat as SUNYAC champions.”
Landers added that the SUNYAC and the NCAA Division III tournament is set to occur this season, with dates for each yet to be determined.