April 26, 2016
Dragons sweep Oswego, get get back on top
OSWEGO — As displayed by last season’s post-season run to a national title, the SUNY Cortland baseball team has figured out how to be at its best when it counts the most.
Needing a three-game sweep to overtake nationally-ranked host Oswego atop the SUNYAC Athletic Conference standings, the No. 1 nationally-ranked Red Dragons did just that this past weekend.
After coming up with an 8-1 victory Friday afternoon over the nationally fourth-ranked Lakers, Cortland used Jeff Cooke’s seven-hit pitching to win the opening game of Saturday’s doubleheader 3-1. The visitors then came up with a five-run outburst in the top of the ninth inning to secure a 7-2 victory that completed this crucial series sweep.
So Coach Joe Brown’s resilient squad has now:
• earned the right to host the SUNYAC playoffs at Wallace Field on May 6-8, something the Red Dragons have done every spring since 1997. The playoff winner earns an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament, a prestigious event Cortland has participated in for 23 consecutive seasons.
• reached 30 wins for the 12th consecutive season, as Cortland now stands 31-5 overall. The most wins ever posted by a Red Dragons team came last season, finishing up a 45-4 campaign by going unbeaten throughout the NCAA tournament.
• built a nine-game winning streak with this late-season surge. The Red Dragons have three more contests before the conference playoffs arrive, starting with Wednesday’s 7 p.m. trip to DeLutis Field in Rome to take on Hamilton College.
Oswego falls to 10-5 on the conference and 25-7 overall, and still has to play a three-game series at Oneonta this coming weekend. The Lakers, under the guidance of former Cortland pitcher Scott Landers, can still finish anywhere from second to fourth in the final standings.
Cortland 3, Oswego 1: Junior right-hander Cooke (5-1) struck out five and did not walk a batter in winning an opening pitching duel over Oswego starter Robert Donnelly. Cortland managed only two hits off Donnelly (5-1), who struck out four and walked a pair of Red Dragons.
All three Cortland runs in the seven-inning opener arrived in the top of the fourth frame.
After Nick Hart opened with a walk, Oswego was unable to get an out on a pair of bunts to load the bases. Fabio Ricci then hit a two-run single through the left side to score Hart and Paul Dondero, and a third run scored on a passed ball.
Oswego scored its lone run in the bottom of the fourth on a one-out Eric Hamilton infield single, a wild pitch, a Myles Kutscher single and a Jordan Giller RBI double. With runners on second and third and one out, Cooke escaped further damage with a strikeout and a flyout.
The Lakers threatened in the sixth when the leadoff batter reached on an error, took second on a one-out wild pitch, and moved to third on a groundout. Cooke got the next hitter to ground out.
A leadoff single by Oswego in the seventh was wiped out when catcher Matt Personius threw out the runner trying to steal second, and Cooke fanned the final two hitters to earn the complete-game victory.
Cortland 7, Oswego 2: Tied at 2-2 heading into the ninth, Cortland’s decisive rally started with a one-out error. Steven Figueroa singled and pinch-hitter Personius drew a walk to fill the bases.
Catcher Justin Teague broke the tie with a single up the middle and the Red Dragons then broke things up. Hart delivered a two-run double and Conrad Ziemendorf a two-run single to build a five-run lead.
That made a winner of reliever Turner Perry, who had entered in the bottom of the seventh with a runner on first and one out aftera Donnelly singled. Donnelly stole second and went to third on a groundout, but Parry got a pop-up to end the inning.
Parry proceeded to retire the side in order in both the eighth and ninth inning with four strikeouts — including whiffing all three Lakers in the bottom of the ninth, to notch the win.
Tanner Whiteman started for Cortland and settled down after allowing two runs on four hits in the first inning that put the Lakers up 2-1. Over the next five and a third innings, the senior right-hander out of Cazenovia gave up only three hits, one walk and no runs. He finished with six strikeouts.
Cortland led 1-0 in the first when Hart doubled, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on that play on an error by the catcher.
Oswego scored twice in the first on a Eric Hamilton sac fly and a Kutscher RBI single.
The Red Dragons quickly tied the game in the top of the second when Seth Lamando hit a solo homer to left. Lamando was Cortland’s starting designated hitter in both games Saturday after earning a win on the mound over the Lakers Friday with a complete game five-hitter.
Cortland left the bases loaded in the fifth, while Oswego had runners on first and third in the sixth. The Red Dragons also had runners thrown out at home in the sixth and at third, when a runner was caught too far off the base on an infield single, in the eighth.
Hart went 3-for-4, Lamando and Figueroa were each 2-for-4 and Ricci went 2-for-5 for Cortland.
Cortland 3, Oswego 1
By innings: R H E
Cortland 000 300 0 — 3 2 1
Oswego 000 100 0 — 1 7 1
Cortland- Jeff Cooke (W, 5-1) and Matt Personius. Oswego- Robert Donnelly (L, 5-1) and Alex Brown
2B- Jordan Giller (O)
Cortland 7, Oswego 2
By innings: R H E
Cortland 110 000 005 — 7 12 1
Oswego 200 000 000 — 2 7 3
Cortland- Tanner Whiteman, Turner Parry (7, W, 3-2) and Justin Teague. Oswego- Tim Cronin, Andrew Morano (7, L, 1-1), Mickey Putillo (9) and Eric Hamilton
2B- Nick Hart (C) 2, Seth Lamando (C), Steven Figueroa (C), Myles Kutscher (O). HR- Seth Lamando (C)
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