March 15, 2016

Dragons win wild one, win streak grows to 21

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — The defending national champion SUNY Cortland baseball squad has been adept at pulling out close victories while getting off to a perfect 12-0 start to this season.
The Red Dragons have not had to endure a topsy-turvy ride that was Monday’s 22-20 victory over previously unbeaten Rutgers-Camden, however, surviving a wild affair played at the Chain O’Lakes Baseball Complex.
Cortland overcame an 11-4 deficit through four innings, built a 22-14 lead and then had to hold off a late Rutgers-Camden comeback bid before preserving a 21-game unbeaten streak dating back to last spring.
The 20 runs scored by Rutgers-Camden are the most allowed by Cortland in a winning effort since at least 1982, and possibly the entire modern era of the sport. The most recent high came in an 18-17 win over Viterbo in 1994.
Rutgers-Camden suffered its first loss of the season and is now 4-1. The Raptors previously defeated second-ranked Wisconsin-La Crosse just prior to Cortland’s victory 4-3 extra-inning escape over those same Eagles on Sunday.
Cortland and Rutgers-Camden both finished with 20 hits.
Austin Clock and Steven Figueroa each totaled four hits for the Red Dragons. First baseman Clock was 4-for-5 with a homer, three RBIs and four runs scored; while third baseman Figueroa finished 4-for-7 with a triple, three RBIs and a pair of runs scored.
Junior Nick Hart homered twice — his first collegiate roundtrippers for Cortland — and drove in five runs while Dan Schweitzer finished 3-for-6 with a double and a pair of RBIs. Hart (2-for-6) was among several Red Dragons with multiple hits — Connor Manderson (2x4), Marcos Perivolaris (2x2) and Fabio Ricci (2x4) in that crowd.
Cortland’s Tyler Brien out of Ilion turned in the best pitching performance of any of the combined 11 hurlers from the two teams. He entered with two outs in the fifth and allowed only two hits and no runs with no walks and two strikeouts in two and a third innings.
Brien was Cortland’s pitcher when the Red Dragons took the lead for good in the top of the sixth and earned the victory in his first appearance of the season.
Cortland led 4-2 in the top of the third, but Camden scored four in the bottom of that inning and five in the fourth to take an 11-4 lead. The Red Dragons responded quickly and decisively with six runs in the fifth and eight in the sixth, sandwiched around three Camden runs in the bottom of the fifth, to go up 18-14.
Cortland tacked on two runs in both the seventh and eighth innings and went into the bottom of the eighth leading 22-14. The Raptors plated five runs in the eighth on a Chris Jones 3-run double and Andujar Cedeno’s two-run homer, and entered the ninth down only 22-19.
After Cortland failed to score in the top of the ninth, Camden opened the bottom of the inning with a double, a groundout, a walk and an RBI infield single. A Jon Theckston sac bunt moved the potential tying runs into scoring position with two outs.
Cortland elected to intentionally walk Joe Brooks to load the bases, setting up force outs at every base but also putting the potential winning run on base. Mike Mills, who had entered the game during the eighth inning, got the next batter to ground out to second to end the game.
For Rutgers-Camden, Doug Carter Jr. was 3-for-3 with a triple and double, Brent Tenuto 4-for-5 with a double and Jones 3-for-5 with a double and five RBIs.
Cortland faces Endicott College this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in Auburndale, Florida.

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