March 16, 2009


Red Dragons sweep up on Florida trip

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — SUNY Cortland capped off an undefeated stay in Florida by sweeping a Saturday baseball doubleheader against Clarkson University on Saturday.
The Red Dragons, ranked 15th nationally in Division III, won the opener 8-4 and took the nightcap 13-4 in the pair of seven-inning contests played at Polk Community College. Winners of nine straight games, including all eight played in the Sunshine State last week, Coach Joe Brown’s squad improved to 9-3 on the season.
Cortland 8, Clarkson 4: Junior left-hander Matt Tone won the first game despite allowing 11 hits and four runs in six innings, though he did strike out 10 batters.
Junior Steve Nickel finished 2-for-2 and drove in two runs, while sophomore Jason Simone went 2-for-4 including an inside-the-park homer while collecting two RBI and scoring three times.
Clarkson (2-2) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning of the opener on a Brett Peplowski two-out RBI single. Cortland tied the game in the bottom of the first on a Nickel sacrifice fly and took the lead in the third when Simone hit a ball that eluded a diving left fielder and went for an inside-the-park homer.
The Red Dragons broke the game open with six runs in the fourth.
Andrew Pezzuto doubled with one out and Zach Reynolds walked. They both moved up on a double steal, and an error on the play allowed Pezzuto to score. With two outs, Simone and Nickel hit back-to-back run-scoring singles to give Cortland a 5-1 lead. Nickel stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Kevin Jackson RBI single.
After an Andersen Gardner walk, senior Paul Merriweather hit an RBI single through the left side. An error on a ball hit by Mike Salvatore allowed the final run to score.
Cortland 13, Clarkson 4: Senior Nicolas Blanco pitched five innings for the victory. He allowed five hits and one walk, struck out eight and gave up two runs. Senior Brendan Rowlands pitched a scoreless sixth and senior J.J. Potrikus allowed two unearned runs in the seventh.
Four Red Dragons – senior and Cortland High grad Mike Avery, Jackson, Gardner and Pezzuto – each finished 2-for-3. Pezzuto drove in three runs, while Nickel and junior Shawn Bailey each homered.
Cortland scored in six of seven innings. Gardner doubled in a run and Pezzuto hit a two-run single in a three-run first inning. Avery tripled in a run and scored on a Simone groundout in a two-run second and Cortland extended its lead to 8-1 in the top of the third on a Pezzuto RBI double, a wild pitch that allowed a run to score and a Salvatore RBI double.
Nickel’s solo homer in the fourth put Cortland ahead 9-2. Sophomore Alex Coffey and Jackson drove in runs with doubles in the sixth and Bailey hit a two-run homer to cap the scoring in the seventh.
Cortland will return to action on Friday, slated to visiting Farmindale. The Red Dragons visit Montclair State Saturday and have a Sunday twin bill slated for Manhattanville.