May 5 , 2007


Dragons romp in first test


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland outfielder Dan Maycock opened up the third inning of Friday’s playoff game stroking this double as the Red Dragons rolled past Oneonta 12-0 at Wallace Field.

Sports Editor

Those hoping for a repeat of an earlier memorable pitching duel were left disappointed Friday afternoon.
Of course, the SUNY Cortland baseball team and their faithful followers didn’t mind a bit that this anticipated post-season rematch was a lot easier on the nerves.
With senior hurler Jim Dougher allowing two harmless singles over eight gritty innings of work, backed by a sure-handed defense that turned three double plays, the top seeds were lopsided 12-0 winners over Oneonta on the opening day of the SUNY Athletic Conference playoffs.
With the offense collecting 16 hits and stealing seven bases, Cortland (33-4) had little trouble advancing in the winner’s bracket to face Brockport (24-13) at noon today in the next step of this double elimination tournament that will crown a champion Sunday afternoon. With the conference championship comes an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Tournament.
It was quite a departure from two weekends ago on this same Wallace Field diamond, when Oneonta senior Erik Weber and Dougher met last. The right-handers went head-to-head and pitch-for-pitch for eight scoreless innings before Cortland pulled out a dramatic 2-1 victory with a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Starting with a Jimmy Basnight single lined into centerfield on Weber’s very first offering, this outcome was never in doubt. The host Red Dragons scored runs in every inning except one, and that long goose egg came in the second frame when they left the bases full.
The first three hitters — leadoff man Basnight, designated hitter Andersen Gardner and catcher Mike Zaccardo — all singled off Weber to give Cortland a quick 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Gardner also came home on a Matt Vitalone one-out base hit before the inning expired when Oneonta turned a double play.
Weber never recovered from that shaky start. By the fifth inning he was gone, reached for eight hits and charged with eight runs.
“Definitely,” said Basnight of the importance of getting early runs against Weber. “After a guy pitches eight or nine shutout innings against you, you really want to set the tone right away. In the first two innings we got his pitch count high and we took advantage of that.”
Weber threw 22 pitches in the first inning and 28 in the second while struggling with his control. Five of the eight walks Cortland took advantage of throughout the game were issued by Weber, who came into the game with a stingy 1.91 earned run average.
ON THE OTHER hand, Dougher continued to baffle Oneonta hitters. He finished with nine strikeouts, including four in a row over one stretch.
In his first outing against Oneonta, Dougher had taken a perfect game into the sixth inning. This time around, the visitors were hit-less until the fifth inning when a slow roller trickled down the third base line off the bat of Dan Randall was not fielded cleanly and went for an infield hit.
Back-up Eric Wilsey ripped a sharp single up the middle one-out into the eighth inning for the other Oneonta hit, which was only the third time Oneonta managed to get a ball out of the Cortland infield against Dougher.
“It was the same mentality, to go out there and dominate for my team,” said the 6-foot-7 ace out of Liverpool after improving to 8-1 on the season and lowering his ERA to 0.43. But even he was surprised by his success the second time around.
“I have a lot of confidence in my stuff, but I thought they would have a little more success against me the second time around. Most people do,” he said.
“Jimmy didn’t have his best stuff, but he competed for us,” said Cortland head coach Joe Brown.
Cortland left-hander David Limbach finished up with a scoreless ninth, walking one and striking out one.
Cortland pitchers got plenty of support.
Up 2-0 heading into the third inning, Dan Maycock doubled over Galutz in right, Vitalone drew a walk and Travis Robinson laid down a perfect bunt to set up a scoring chance. With the infield in, Steve Nickel’s infield chopper would be thrown away at the plate and two more runs were home.
Basnight made in 5-0 in the fourth with a leadoff walk. He stole second for the second time in the game and eventually scored from third on a wild pitch.
After an Oneonta error to start the fifth, Anthony Coromato doubled and Joey Russo singled to drive in two more runs. Three infield hits and a double steal were part of a two-run sixth. Vitalone singled home a run in the seventh and a passed ball brought an eighth inning run home.
COACH BROWN was happy to see his offense come alive, follow a game plan in attacking Weber. “We were a little more aggressive. You can’t sit back against a guy who throws a lot of strikes,” said Brown.
Eleven different Dragons had hits, with Comomato going 3-for-5. Basnight, Zaccardo and Vitalone had two hits apiece, Zaccardo and Vitalone each driving in two runs.
Next comes Brockport, which escaped with an 8-7 extra-inning victory over Plattsburgh in the opening game in dramatic fashion (see separate story). And Brockport swept a doubleheader from visiting Cortland early in the season, though since then the Red Dragons have gone 19-2.
That should help keep Cortland focused and not rest on Friday’s laurels.
Or as Basnight stated afterwards: “This game means nothing. We have to come out ready to play tomorrow.”



Second CHS win is ‘extra’ special

Brittany Babcock’s two-out, full-count single in the bottom of the eighth inning brought Kaleigh Smith home with the winning run Friday as the Cortland High softball team shaded visiting Jamesville-DeWitt 2-1 at Meldrim Field.
Smith walked to lead off the inning, moved to second on a sacrifice by Lauren Shirley and went to third on a groundout before scoring the winning run.
Each team had scored once in the sixth, J-D on three consecutive singles and the Purple Tigers on a triple by Chelsea Snyder and a sacrifice fly to center by Babcock. The winners had only three hits in the game off the visitors’ Caitlin Tessier.
CHS, now 2-7 in the OHSL Freedom Division and overall, turned double plays in both the sixth and seventh innings to choke off J-D threats.
The Red Rams had scored in the sixth and had runners on second and third with one out when Natalie Mieras relieved starter Maggie Reagan and struck out the first batter she faced. The ball was dropped by catcher Taylor Foster, who threw to first to get the batter, and the return throw by first baseman Babcock nailed the runner from third trying to score.
“The girls played their finest game of the season,” said Purple Tigers coach Mick Lowie, whose squad had lost to host J-D 8-0 in its season-opener. The defense continues to play outstanding, with no errors and three double plays in the game, keeping J-D at bay.
“We still struggle to score runs, stranding two runners in scoring position in both the first and second innings, although contact is improving, with only two strikeouts. This was an outstanding game played by both teams, with only one error and some great plays by both sides, We got some great pitching, great defense and, finally, a timely hit. The girls earned every bit of this win.”




Road Woes for Homer

MEXICO — Homer Central boys made the long trip to Mexico Friday for its latest OHSL Freedom Division tennis contest. The Trojans fought hard, but fell to the host Tigers by a 6-1 count.
The Trojans fell to 0-6 in division and overall play while the Tigers improved to 6-1 in league and overall play.
“The boys really played well,” said Homer athletic director Mike Carboine, who was subbing for coach Nancy Cavellier. “There were a couple of matches that could have gone either way. That would have made things much closer.”
The only Homer win came at first doubles where Jon Southwick and Dan DiGiovanna defeated Zach Jones and Marcus Harter by scores of 6-0, 7-5.
Keegan Mastroe lost a hard-fought 7-5, 7-5 match to Chad Halstead at third singles while Jeff Eves and Andy Saraceno dropped a 6-4, 6-4 second doubles match to Sean Gravelle and Jim Hartwell. Even the third doubles team of Stefen Haugen and Tyler Camp dropped a tough 6-4, 7-5 match.
Homer return to action Tuesday as the Trojans travel to Jamesville-DeWitt for a 4 p.m. match. That begins a three-match in three-day swing. After J-D, Homer travels to East Syracuse-Minoa Wednesday and Cortland Thursday.