April 20, 2009
Trojans in 7th heaven
Simonetta’s two-run HR trips Tigers in title game
Seventh-inning heroics worked both for and against the Cortland High baseball team Saturday afternoon in the Greg Partigianoni Memorial Tournament.
The Purple Tigers scored four runs in bottom of the seventh to pull out a 7-6 win over Tully in their first game before Brandon Simonetta’s two-run home run to left-center in the top of the final frame proved to be the difference in the championship contest as Homer Central shaded CHS 5-4.
Both games were played at Cortland’s Beaudry Park.
The title-game win was Homer’s second of the week over Cortland, the Trojans also having won 5-3 at SUNY Cortland Monday in both teams’ season-opener. It capped a busy six-game week for Homer, which included a 5-3 win over Dryden High at Dave Guido Field Saturday in the first round (see separate story on page 13).
All told, the Trojans went 6-1 on the week including winning their own John Baden Tournament.
“I’ll take that any time,” Trojans coach Rob Nasiatka said of that productive season-opening stretch. “You schedule seven games in a week in April in Central New York and you think there’s no way. It’s fun to coach this bunch. They play hard and don’t quit. They’re close off the field, too, and they have each other’s backs.
“We had a volunteer batting practice today and over half the team showed up, On Thursday they got together and hit,” he added,Thursday the lone day off for the Trojans. “They’re very determined. They’ve been together since they were 10, and it’s a group you want to do a lot with. Coming off a loss (7-6 to visiting Marcellus Friday) and finishing off a busy week, it showed character for this team to get up and ready to play. They took care of business. We beat two good teams today. Dryden is good, and Cortland will be good in Class A.”
Dryden improved to 4-2 on the season by beating Tully 1-0 in the consolation game.
“You’ve got to hand it to Homer,” Cortland coach John Tobin said, his team now 2-3 overall. “Rob has a good team. They had a lot of chances to get down and dig themselves into holes, but they didn’t. Matt Carr is a tough pitcher, and Simonetta, who also homered against us Monday, is a good hitter.”
Simonetta opened that season-opening win over Cortland with a leadoff home run.
“Their bats were definitely ready. Their pitchers did a nice job and threw strikes. Right now we’re still giving away too many at-bats; even at Jamesville-DeWitt we had one good inning,” added Tobin, CHS with an 11-run third in what ended up a 13-3 win on Wednesday. “Guys are looking at third strikes, and we shouldn’t be doing that. We have to stay aggressive the whole game.”
The Purple Tigers jumped out to an early advantage against Homer, junior shortstop Tony Whitt lacing a one-out double to right-center in the bottom of the first and eventually scoring on a throwing error after junior second baseman Brandon Watkins beat out an infield single. CHS used two singles and a hit batter to load the bases with one out in the second before an infield error plated junior third baseman Ryann Hubbard to make it 2-0. Homer avoided further damage with an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded.
The Trojans took the lead in the third off CHS sophomore starter Justin Hogan, senior catcher Zach Randolph singling up the middle and scoring on a home run to left by classmate and designated hitter K.J. Reese after senior rightfielder Brendan L’Hommedieu had singled with one out and scored on a groundout.
Cortland tied the score with a run in the fifth, as senior first baseman Ian Spafford doubled to right-center and scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Watkins. The hosts then went ahead in the sixth as senior centerfielder Trevor Williamson singled to center, took second when the ball was mishandled, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a single to right by junior third baseman Hubbard. Spafford and Watkins then walked before Homer senior starter and winner Ricky Newman got a strikeout to end the inning.
Junior Carr, who pitched the final three innings in relief for Cortland, walked senior centerfielder Jack Kissel with one out before Simonetta rode a fastball out of the park.
“I just swung as hard as I could,” Simonetta said. “He was behind 2-0, so he was looking for a strike. He just put it in too perfect. I knew I’d get a chance to bat in the seventh; we all knew going into the inning that we had a shot. We’re never out of it.
“We began and finished the week by beating Cortland. so it was perfect. Any time you can beat them, it’s a great day.”
Senior rightfielder Justin Guerin singled off Newman with one out in the bottom of the seventh. Nasiatka then brought Simonetta on in relief, and he needed three pitches to get the game-ending double play and earn the save.
Simonetta and Reese both went 2-for-3 with a home run, double, two RBIs and two hits for Homer, which visits Westhill Monday. Watkins went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and Hubbard was 2-for-4 with an RBI for Cortland, which hosts Fowler at 4:30 p.m. Monday at Beaudry.
Cortland 5, Tully 4: CHS trailed 5-0 after three innings against Tully and was still down 6-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh before mounting an incredible comeback.
Whitt led off with a walk against Black Knights junior starter Ben Smith, and went to second as junior second baseman Justin Burns beat out an infield single off senior reliever Andrew Pagan, suffering a leg injury in the process that brought junior Jake Robillard on as a pinch-runner. One out later, Spafford singled to center to score Whitt, and Robillard came on on a fielder’s choice by Watkins. Pagan balked Watkins to second, and Williamson singled to right to bring him home with the tying run. After Hogan walked, junior rightfielder Matt Carr lashed a single that went just inside the bag and first and then bounced into foul territory as Williamson came home with the game-winning run.
“I just went with the pitch, an outside fastball,” Carr said moments later. “Winning like this gives us confidence, and hopefully we can keep it going. We’re a tightly-knit crew, and have been playing together for awhile. It came together with some timely hits, and all worked out well. Tony Whitt pitched well and kept us in it.”
Whitt three three innings of scoreless relief to get the win.
“We were getting blown out, but our pitching held up and we never gave up,” Williamson said. “I hit a curve, which I knew was coming because he’d burned me twice with it. We are close, with good team chemistry.”
“We sleep-walked through the first four innings,’ Tobin said. “The kids nonchalanted everything early, then felt a sense of urgency, turned it up and played better. But we can’t get to that point; we have to play with more intensity early. I hope they don’t do this again.
Whitt did a great job coming on in relief. Tully has a nice team; they have some big kids who hit the ball hard.”
Freshman third baseman Marcus Warner’s two-run single keyed a four-run second for the Black Knights, who tacked on another run in the third. Cortland got two back in the fourth as Spafford led off with a single to left and later scored on a bases-loaded walk to Hogan and sophomore catcher Justin Tabel plated the second run with a fielder’s choice.
Tully scored once in the top of the fifth and Cortland answered with a run in the bottom of the same inning, Hubbard scoring as Williamson got hung up in a rundown before first and second, tagged out only after the run scored.
Spafford and Burns both went 2-for-4 for Cortland. Senior leftfielder Joe Hafler and Smith both went 2-for-3 for Tully (3-5).
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