May 12, 2007
Red Dragons sent to loser’s bracket by Bombers
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland third baseman Tina Milani makes a throw past pitcher Katie Finch, but it arrives too late in the fifth inning of Friday’s 5-1 loss to Ithaca College in the Division III NCAA Tournament at Dragon Field.
When you reach this stage of the softball season the little things can make such a big difference.
So it was for SUNY Cortland on the second day of play in this NCAA Division III Regional. The Red Dragons were sent into the loser’s bracket of this double elimination tournament with a 5-1 loss to Ithaca College in the last of five games played on Friday.
Third seed Ithaca (35-7) played errorless ball behind pitcher Nicole Cade, with junior second baseman Jessica Strangarone making a couple of plays worthy of any highlight reel.
Second seed Cortland (36-9) made a lone error, and that helped ignite a four-run rally in the bottom of the fifth inning that proved to be the decisive edge for the Bombers.
That was pretty much the difference between these two confident teams that rapped out six hits apiece at Dragon Field. Both of these squads are nationally ranked, Ithaca at No. 2 and Cortland No. 15 in the polls. Both sides have national championship ambitions. Both teams also have a respectful distaste, if there can be such a thing, for each other as befits archrivals of such close proximity.
“It’s all about pitching and defense,” said Ithaca coach Deb Pallozzi after improving to 2-0 in the tournament and advancing to face Plattsburgh at noon today in a clash of the only unbeaten teams remaining in this six-team regional. “Nicole Cade pitched well enough to win and our defense came up with some big plays when she did hang some pitches. And then we got some timely hits.”
Meanwhile, Cortland only struck out five times against Cade. But several well-struck balls were turned into outs, including the two stellar Strangarone plays.
Cortland has been in this position before, however. Last weekend hosting the SUNY Athletic Conference playoffs, Cortland dropped the second game of the tournament only to come back to take the title and earn an automatic berth into this NCAA post-season event.
Now the scenario remains the same for the Red Dragons, who will face the winner of this morning’s Keuka College versus University of Rochester contest at 2 p.m. in a quest to play their way into Sunday’s championship round and beyond.
“Oh, you never choose to do it that way,” said Cortland coach Julie Lenhart of facing the tough but doable task of winning a title through the loser’s bracket. “We’re not pouting about it. We’re not holding our heads down.”
FRESHMAN STARTER Katie Finch struck out seven Bombers over the first three innings, though Ithaca would get on the scoreboard in the first inning between all of those Ks.
Amanda Kowalsick drew a one-out walk, stole second and scored when clean-up hitter Cade singled into right-center field.
That was all the scoring until the fifth, with Strangarone coming up especially big.
She robbed Cortland’s Dominique Talbot of a leadoff second inning single, ranging to her right and throwing out the fleet Red Dragon senior. Then she took a base hit away from Shara Evanter to open up the fourth inning, snaring her line drive headed to right field.
“Strangarone, their second baseman, she took those singles way. She turned in two great plays and stopped our momentum,” said Lenhart. “Defense wins championships and she’s the real deal.”
“She was definitely our MVP, don’t you think?” said Coach Pallozzi of the IC second sacker.
Cortland also came up with a key play in the fourth inning to keep Ithaca from scoring. A one-out walk to Cade, a stolen base by pinch runner Alyssa Guzman and Mel Chinigo single started that trouble. Guzman held at third on the hit, though Cortland thought they had nabbed Chinigo at second base — a difference of opinion Coach Lenhart came out to share with the base umpire.
Ithaca failed to convert, though. Guzman was nabbed at the plate trying to score on a wild pitch and a fly ball ended that scoring threat.
Cortland was still within 1-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth, IC the home team for this contest. That’s when things turned the Bombers’ way.
With one out, pinch hitter Regina Douglas singled down the right field line, just beating the throw from outfielder Nicole Fredericks to the bag. Then No. 9 batter Jenn Marro sent a one-hopper to third base that was misplayed — the game’s lone error — to put two Bombers aboard. And when leadoff hitter Eric Cutspec dribbled a ball in front of the plate and beat the throw to first, the bases were suddenly loaded.
ITHACA CASHED in on this scoring chance.
Kowalsick dumped a single into leftfield to make it 2-0 Ithaca. With Finch lifted for senior hurler Ang D’Ambroise, catcher Hannah Shalett hit a fly ball to right field deep enough to bring another runner home.
Then Cade dropped a double into shallow center that Red Dragon Annemarie Nelson nearly gloved, and two more Bombers crossed the plate.
Cortland only managed one run out of three hits in the sixth, thanks to Cade starting a double play in the midst of that rally. Fredericks did get a two-out single and scored on a Talbot opposite field double to get the Red Dragons on the scoreboard, though a strikeout ended that rally.
And in the seventh, a walk and a single by Jamie Neuner gave Cortland renewed hope. Senior shortstop Neuner also kept alive a 21-game hitting streak. But a grounder and a scorching line drive off the bat of Nelson that was gloved in center by Ithaca’s Marro ended the game.
CADE FINISHED with three RBI with a 2-for-2 bat. While finishing with a six-hitter, she issued a lone walk and hit a batter. Finch took the loss, charged with all five runs, only two of which were earned.
“I was not disappointed with our hitting. We hit the ball hard. We just could not get a timely hit,” said Lenhart, Cortland leaving eight base runners stranded.
“Hopefully, we’ll play them again,” she added.
Coach Pellozzi always looks forward to the intensity of the rivalry, the challenges Cortland provides. “This being a post-season game adds a little flavor to it, but it’s always a fun game,” she said.
Olympians hang on to edge past Candor
MARATHON— There were some tense moments for Marathon Central coach Dick Barry as his boys held on for an 8-7 Interscholastic Athletic Conference baseball win over visiting Candor.
The Olympians led 7-2 after five innings before Candor gave back strong in the sixth and seventh innings to put a little fright into the hosts.
In other baseball action involving local teams, Dryden downed Groton 12-3.
In local IAC softball action, Candor doubled up Marathon 4-2.
Marathon 8, Candor 7: After each team scored one run in the first inning, the host Olympians scored four runs in the bottom of the second. The key hit, a two-run double by Aubrey Brown, who went 2-for-4 in the game with a pair of doubles. Dan Bleck was another key contributor as he went 3-for-3 in this Division III contest.
Marathon scored twice in the fourth with Brown delivering a crucial RBI double.
Dave Bleck cruised through the first five innings, allowing just two runs, but Candor added two more runs in the sixth to Narrow the deficit to 8-4, Dan Bleck came on in the seventh inning as Candor rallied for three more runs to close the deficit one run before the final out was recorded.
Dryden 12, Groton 3: Dryden clung to a 2-0 lead entering the top of the sixth inning before the Purple Lions exploded for four runs to increase their advantage to 6-0. Dryden scored six more times in the top of the seventh before Groton plated all three of its runs in the bottom of the seventh.
Tim Finnerty paced Dryden by going 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs. Purple Lion pitcher Matt Colbert held Groton in check with 11 strikeouts.
Pete Jackson hit a double for Groton and took the loss after pitching six innings.
IN IAC SOFTBALL —
Candor 4, Marathon 2: Ashley Green struck out nine Marathon batters to lead Candor to a home-field victory Friday. At the plate, Katie Wilcox was 2-for-3 for the winners.
Kelly Braman hit a double for Marathon.
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NAPA alone in B Division top spot
NAPA is on top by itself in the B Division of the Cortland Men’s Slow Pitch Softball League after Friday night’s action.
NAPA improved to 4-0 with a 17-11 victory over Beach House, while Friends handed Tavern B its first loss, 25-6. Both teams are now 3-1, as is Time Warner Cable after rolling past Ivan’s 37-3. Stafford’s took Palm Gardens 20-14 in another B Division contest.
Gators was a 20-13 winner over Klever Lawns-N-Landscapes in An A Division contest, while in the C Division CCRP bested T.J. Landscaping 14-2 and King Sub was a 15-10 winner over Quali-D Auto.
NAPA 17, Beach House 11: Eric Price went 4-for-4 with a home run and six RBIs to lead the way for NAPA, while Greg Zacek went 3-for-4 with a double, Dustin Darnell 2-for-3 with a triple and John Canzano (triple) and Bill Phillips both went 2-for-4. Grossi (triple) and Miller both went 3-for-4 , while Stauber (home run) and Shortsleeve were both 2-for-4 for Beach House.
Friends 25, The Tavern B 6: A 32-hit attack, including nine doubles, three triples and three homers, lifted Friends. Kevin Willcox was 5-for-5 with a homer and two doubles, while Dave Seamans went 5-for-6 with a homer and a triple. Mike Myers (homer, double), Tim Robison (two triples, double), Dave Gascho (two doubles), Jeremy Devereese (double) and Chris Willcox all went 4-for-5 for the winners, while A. Walker went 3-for-3 for The Tavern.
Time Warner Cable 37, Ivans 3: Everyone in the winners’ lineup had at least three hits, led by Chris Taylor’s 6-for-6 night with two homers and two doubles and Dave Lott’s 5-for-6 with five doubles. Steve Lott went 5-for-5 with a double, with John Burns (homer, triple) and Nick Bucci both also going 5-for-6.
Staffords 20, Palm Gardens 14: S. Montreuil and Lovejoy had a homer and a triple apiece and J. Shufelt homered for Stafford’s. L. Finnerty tripled and doubled, while Peterson also tripled, T. Slocum had two doubles and R. Hall and D. Casey doubled once each. D. Ecker tripled for Palm Gardens, which also got a double apiece from Kingsman, Ruocco and Handy.
Gators 20, Klever Lawns-N-Landscapes 13: Brad Robison went 3-for-5 with three home runs and Ed Dickert was 4-for-5 with three runs scored for Gators. Sean Babcock (two doubles), Brian Keefer (two doubles), Jason Reynolds (triple) and Zach Bogardus were all 3-for-5. T. Ostrander went 4-for-4 for Klever, with M. Bush and L. Mayer both going 3-for-4.
CCRP 14, T.J. Landscaping 2: Ryan Eddy’s 4-for-4 bat showed the way for CCRP, while Leon B. was 3-for-4 with a homer and Jeremy B. and Stacey B. both went 2-for-3. Tigh B. was 3-for-3 and Jason S. and Bret D. both went 2-for-2 for T.J. Landscape.
King Sub 15, Quali-D Auto 10: Kin Sub got a 4-for-4 night with a homer and three RBIs from Joe Magee, while Vince Byrne (RBI) and Chuck Wilbur (double) both went 3-for-4 and Pat Wing had two hits and three RBIs. Jon Wright (homer), Art Buchanan (double) and John Cavanaugh all went 2-for-3 for Quali-D Auto.
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