April 16, 2012
Trojans title triumph extra-special
Win classic battle with CHS in 8th inning
They needed some extra time to settle the championship game of the Cortland High baseball team’s annual Partigianoni Tournament Saturday afternoon at Beaudry Park. Fans of both Homer Central and the hosts would agree, though, that it was worth it.
Or, as Trojans coach Rob Nasiatka put it, “People paid big money to get into Yankee Stadium today and didn’t see a game as good as this one.”
The visitors got a clutch two-out, three-run home run from senior Brent Quinlan — who started at third and eventually earned the mound win in relief — to go up 5-4 in the top of the seventh. After the Purple Tigers tied the score on a throwing error and saw the potential tying run thrown out at home in the bottom of that inning, sophomore catcher Chase Davis slashed a two-run double to key a three-run top of the eighth and Quinlan then struck out the side in the bottom of the inning for what wound up an 8-5 victory for Homer.
The Trojans stayed perfect through five games this spring.
Homer got to the finals with an 8-2 win over Dryden in the first round at Dave Guido Field, while Cortland, with junior standout Brian Hughes unavailable for the tourney, beat McGraw 11-3 at Beaudry. Dryden beat McGraw 10-7 in the consolation game at Guido Field (see related story).
Homer 8, Cortland 5, 8 innings: The Trojans were down to their last strike, trailing 4-2 with a man on first, before getting to CHS senior starter Devon Darrow. Senior shortstop Peyten Boice was behind 0-2 in the count before coaxing a walk, checking his swing on ball four, and Quinlan then bashed a 1-0 offering off the scoreboard in left field to give his team its first lead of the game, 5-4.
After junior Justin Sidebottom relieved and got the final out of the inning, Cortland tied it in the bottom of the frame. Senior shortstop Connor Griffin singled with one out, went to third on a single to right by sophomore second baseman Caden Giroux and continued home with the tying run as the throw to third went out of play, Giroux ending up at second. Sophomore third baseman Zach Whelan then singled to right and Giroux was tagged out at home after a perfect relay throw from Trojans sophomore first baseman Jake Casey to Davis.
Homer senior rightfielder Sully Hartnett was hit by a Sidebottom pitch to lead off the eight, and went to second as senior leftfielder Taylor Withiam’s perfectly-placed sacrifice bunt attempt actually wound up a single. Two outs later, with the runners still at first and second, Davis laced an 0-1 pitch into the gap in right-center to score them both and then came home on a triple to deep right by senior Kevin McNeil, who started the game for the winners before going to center field in the fourth.
“I was stunned. I hadn’t had a great hitting game, but I got a hit at the right time,” Davis said with a huge smile in describing the game-winner, having gone 0-for-4 with an RBI up to that point. “It was a fastball inside. I’d faced Justin in JV and went 2-for-2 so I had confidence going into the at-bat.
“Our momentum was crushed when they scored to tie it in the seventh but we got it back again. This team is good at stringing hits together. When Brent hit the home run it was absolutely amazing. I don’t know how he did it. This game was an emotional roller coaster, ” he added.
“You’re a little nervous going up there as potentially the last out,” Quinlan said, “but I just waited for my pitch, a fastball, and got it. He had thrown a lot of off-speed stuff to us before that. I knew we’d come through; we always do. We have a lot of hitters and were struggling early on, then stepped it up.”
Quinlan did just that on the mound, striking out the side in both the sixth and eighth. He finished with seven strikeouts in three innings and allowed one earned run and three hits, all in the seventh. McNeil (six strikeouts), sophomore middle reliever Millet DeAngles and Quinlan didn’t issue any walks in the game.
“It was all fastballs,” Quinlan said of his success. “I’m coming off a little shoulder injury and didn’t want to throw that much, but my shoulder feels great now. I can ice it later.”
“That’s the type of team we have this year,” said an obviously proud Nasiatka. “It was a team effort, everyone together, to get back into it. Chase is our second-string catcher; I moved Taylor to left after he caught the first game. I can’t say enough about him, and Quinlan’s home run was huge.
“We had a couple of games like this last season and there’s not a lot of quit in this team. They always feel they can pull it off. It’s a don’t-say-die team, which makes it fun to coach.”
“I’m disappointed that we didn’t get the win, but at the same time we battled and came back well,” Cortland coach Ben Albright said, his team 2-3 overall after the loss. “Devon isn’t one of our starters but pitched a heck of a game and kept us in it.”
Darrow gave up seven hits and three earned runs with two strikes in 6-2/3 innings of pitching.
“ Give Homer credit. Tthey came back and fought just as hard as we did. You always get that when you’re going against your rival,” added Albright. “We have some good kids on this team who know the game is never over. They fought hard; it’s early in the season, and we’ve been doing it right along. They certainly believe in themselves. You have to love playing in close games; it’s better than a blowout, either way.”
Homer opened the scoring in the top of the first with a run on a throwing error, and Cortland came back with two runs in bottom of the first, both scoring on an infield miscue. The hosts made it 3-1 in the third as Griffin doubled to the fence in left and came home on a single to right by Giroux, and went up 4-1 an inning later as senior leftfielder Will Lessard tripled to deep right and scored on a single to center by senior designated hitter Cory Broyles.Casey singled to center to lead off the visitors’ fourth and eventually scored on a groundout by Davis to make it 4-2.
Withiam went 3-for-4 with a run scored for Homer, while Quinlan was 2-for-4 with the homer as well as a double, the three RBIs and the run scored. Casey went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run. Griffin went 3-for-4 with a double and three runs for Cortland, while Giroux (RBI) and senior centerfielder Vinnie Bellardini (triple) both went 2-for-4.
Cortland 11, McGraw 3: The Purple Tigers scored five runs in each of the first two innings against the Eagles, who opened their season with the tournament.
Junior Justin Travis earned the complete-game victory in his first varsity start, allowing seven hits and one earned run with six strikeouts.
Sophomore third baseman Whelan keyed both big innings with two-run singles and wound up going 2-for-3 with the four RBIs and two runs. Senior rightfielder Jonathan Prior went 2-for-2 with an RBI triple in the first and a run-scoring single in the second as well as two runs scored. Giroux also went 2-for-2 and scored twice and Lessard had a two-run double in the second.
Travis helped himself with an RBI single and Bellardini had a sacrifice fly to account for Cortland’s other first-inning runs. McGraw got a run in the second on a CHS throwing error and got its other two runs in the fourth. Senior first baseman-second baseman Austin Chambers(2-for-3 with two runs) beat out an infield single and later scored on a groundout by junior leftfielder Justin Morgan before senior third baseman Mark Hitt, who had been hit by a pitch, came home on an infield error.
“I had a good fastball and worked a pretty good nix with my curveball,” Travis said. “I’m happy to get the win. The early runs definitely helped me settle down, and I was happy that this team backed me with all the plays they made.”
“I was pleased that I hit the ball pretty well,” Whelan said. “Both of my hits were on fastballs, the first one low and away and the second one high. This game was a confidence-builder for us offensively.”
“We have a very capable team that can hit and play defense; we just need to relax,” Albright said. “Whelan is swinging a good bat, and Prior is doing good things at the plate and hitting the ball.’
“We really settled down after the first couple of innings,” said McGraw coach Abe Johnson, a former CHS player whose team outscored his alma mater 2-1 over the final five frames. “I think our guys had the jitters early, wanting to play well and show the good things they can do. They didn’t give up, which I’m very proud of.
“Cortland is a good team, well-coached, and we’re happy to have the opportunity to come over and play. If we can eliminate the big innings I think we can hang with anybody.”
Both teams were scheduled to return to action today, Cortland hosting Chittenango and McGraw visiting Cincinnatus in its Central Counties League opener. Both games were slated to start at 4:30 p.m.
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