PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh State baseball team wanted to build some momentum heading into State University of New York Athletic Conference play.The Cardinals have done just that with a 12-2 nonconference record.But the real season begins today when the Cardinals open their SUNYAC regular season schedule, hosting New Paltz in a noon doubleheader at Chip Cummings Field.Sunday, the Cardinals travel to Oneonta for a twinbill."The first 14 games we played this season were a warm-up to get ready for conference play," said Plattsburgh State head coach Kris Doorey. "We play seven doubleheaders in the conference, and they are our most important games. The SUNYAC is one of the top four or five (Division III) conferences in the country. Four of the top six teams currently ranked in the region are SUNYAC teams."Opening at home is an advantage for us."The first game of SUNYAC doubleheaders is nine innings and the second, seven innings.New Paltz is currently 5-9 overall, and the Hawks' last game was a 5-2 setback at Ithaca College on Wednesday."Each team in the conference plays a doubleheader at home and one on the road this weekend," Doorey said. "I'm sure we're going to see New Paltz's and Oneonta's top two pitchers."I imagine we'll see (Jim) Donahue and (Zach) Potter when we play New Paltz. Donahue is a left-hander who beat us last year."The Cardinals defeated New Paltz, 13-3, at home last season in the first game before losing, 2-1, in the nightcap.The plan for the Cardinals today is to go with sophomore left-hander Kevin Gent in the first game and senior right-hander Matt Dahlin in the second."We're playing to win," Doorey said. "Gent starts Game 1, but we'll use Dahlin in relief if we need to. Our guys are ready to go. We only have three freshmen on the team, and our players know what to expect when it comes to conference play."What Doorey likes the most about this year's team is the depth."We have more options," he said. "We don't have any glaring weaknesses, and everyone needs to be ready to perform. If they aren't, someone else is going to get a crack at starting."Doorey cautioned that the Cardinals can ill afford to endure a rough weekend."We can't have any bad weekends in the conference," he said. "There are eight teams in the SUNYAC, and four make the playoffs. If we win eight games, we're in. But we're not going to intimidate anyone in the conference and need to do more than just throw our gloves out on the field."We're also not intimidated by anyone — except maybe for Cortland for whatever reason. But we can't worry about them. We need to worry about what we can do."Oneonta, the Cardinals' opponent Sunday, is currently 9-1 overall.The Red Dragons play at SUNYIT today and figure to save their No. 1 and 2 starters for the Cardinals.Last year, Plattsburgh State lost two of three games to the Oneonta.The two teams split a doubleheader during the regular season at Oneonta, with Plattsburgh State a 6-2 winner in the opener before the Red Dragons bounced back for a 9-4 decision in Game 2.Then, in the opening round of the double-elimination SUNYAC Tournament held in Cortland, Oneonta emerged with a hard-earned 1-0 victory.
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