April 23, 2016
SUNYAC baseball: Dragons take first big step
OSWEGO — Having just regained their No. 1 status in this week’s national Division III poll, the SUNY Cortland baseball team is still trying to reclaim first place in the conference standings.
The Red Dragons took a big step towards doing just that on Friday afternoon, as senior captain Seth Lamando pitched a five-hitter and Paul Dondero smacked a leadoff home run in an 8-1 victory over league-leading host Oswego.
Nationally fourth-ranked Oswego is still a game ahead of Cortland in the SUNY Athletic Conference, with those two teams meeting in a doubleheader today starting at noon at this same site. Oswego is 10-3 in conference play and and 25-5 overall, while Cortlandstands 12-4 in conference play and29-5 overall.
While this weekend will conclude Cortland’s conference schedule, Oswego still has a three-game series at Oneonta slated for next weekend.
Lamando struck out eight Lakers and did not issue a walk while going the distance to start this crucial three-game set, improving to 7-0 on the season for the defending conference and national champions. The only run allowed by Lamando was John Barnes’ solo home run hit one-out into the fifth frame.
Dondero’s opening home run was part of the shortstop’s 3-for-5 plate success, as the Red Dragons pounded out 14 hits against three different Oswego pitchers. Conrad Ziemendorf was also 3-for-5 and drove in two runs for Cortland, who also got two-hit games from Nick Hart, Fabio Ricci and Steven Figueroa.
Going up against Oswego starting pitcher Brian Nolan (4-1), Dondero went deep off a full count 3-2 pitch to provide an early emotional lift for the visiting Red Dragons.
Cortland added a run in the third when Hart singled, went to third on a Ziemendorf base hit and scored on Austin Clock’s sacrifice fly. The visitors went up 3-0 in the fourth on a Dondero RBI single.
After Barnes homered to make it 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth, Cortland responded with a four-run sixth inning.
Figueroa started things with a single and stole second, Connor Griffin drew a walk and, after a passed ball, catcher Justin Teague drew the third of his three walks in the game to load the bases. Oswego got a force at home for the inning’s first out, but Hart singled to right to drive in two runs and — two batters later — Ziemendorf came through with a two-run double to left.
Cortland closed the scoring in the eighth on a Ricci sacrifice fly.
Oswego threatened in the ninth off Lamando when Wes Randall was hit by a pitch and Brian Hamilton singled to lead off the inning, but Lamando struck out the next two batters and got a groundout to end the game.
Two Cortland High graduates are on opposite sides of this showdown, senior second baseman Griffin scoring twice during an 0-for-3 afternoon for Cortland while sophomore Zach Whelan was used as a pinch-runner for Oswego in the loss.
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