May 19, 2007
Dragons keep on playing
AUBURN — Two down, two to go.
That is where the SUNY Cortland baseball team stands heading into the championship round of the NCAA Division III New York Regional after sending two challengers home on Friday.
The Red Dragons defeated St John Fisher 17-3 before finishing off Trinity College 10-6 late last night in back-to-back elimination contests to move two wins away from earning a trip to the Division III World Series.
Now the Red Dragons have to figure out a way to beat Ithaca College twice this afternoon to emerge as champions as this double-elimination gathering of seven schools has been whittled down to two old rivals heading into the fourth and final day of play at Falcon Park.
The trick to battling back in the loser’s bracket, if you listen to junior catcher Mike Zaccardo, is to take things one game at a time and not gaze too far into the future.
“In something like this, you just have to take it one game at a time. Right now, I’m only concerned about one game tomorrow, and if we win that then I’ll start thinking about the next game,” said Zaccardo, whose solo home run in the first inning against St. John Fisher was the first of 35 hits the Red Dragons collected in these two victories. “If we take care of business, we will be alright.”
Ithaca has beaten Westfield State, St. John Fisher and Trinity — by an 8-1 margin in the opening game Friday — to advance through the winner’s bracket unscathed. The Bombers (27-13), second seeds and regional hosts, will be well rested headed into their fourth game.
Aside from a 2-1 loss to Trinity College over 13 innings on Thursday that sent Cortland into the loser’s bracket, the Red Dragons have pretty much dominated. They have scored 40 runs in their three victories, and went without an error over 18 innings in beating St. John Fisher and avenging that heart-breaking loss to Trinity College from Hartford, Conn.
“That’s been our trademark all season. If we play great defense we’re can play with anyone in the country, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” said Cortland coach Joe Brown.
The Red Dragon boss points out there are five pitchers who have not seen action yet and should be ready to go to work against Ithaca. “And I’m sure I’ve got one or two pitchers who will be able to coax me into thinking they have one or two innings left in them,” Brown added with a smile.
Cortland 10, Trinity 6: The Red Dragons may be without leadoff man Jim Basnight, who injured his elbow to start this game sliding back into first base on a pick-off attempt.
Before the senior sparkplug had to leave the game, he did create the game’s first run. Basnight drew another pickoff throw that sailed off target and scooted down to second base. He then stole third and trotted home when the catcher threw the ball wide of the mark and into left field.
Though Basnight was unable to continue, Cortland High graduate and junior outfielder Sean Caughey took his place in the batting order and scored three times, got a couple of hits and swiped a base. Coming through like that in Basnight’s absence earned plaudits from his coach.
“Sean Caughey, he’s just completely unselfish,” said Brown. “Sean is one of those talented players we have who we have trouble finding a spot for a lot of times, and I’ve talked to him about it and he just says all he wants to do is win.”
After Basnight scored the game’ s first run, the Cortland lead grew to 5-0 in the second inning. After loading the bases, Anthony Coromato’s two-run single and Dan Maycock’s two-run double did that damage.
But Red Dragon freshman left-hander Dan Tone was not his usual self, the rookie hurler with a 5-0 record and a 2.14 earned run average coming into the game.
Though three of the first four Trinity batters reached base, each was quickly erased. A double play grounder, a Zaccardo throw to second to nab a base stealer and a successful pick-off at first base helped Tone survive.
Tone would not get through the third inning when Trinity struck for two runs. When he used a bases loaded walk on four consecutive pitches to force home that second run, his day was over.
“You have to remember he’s a freshman, and we’ve asked a lot of our freshmen this year,” said Zaccardo, pointing out the contributions Tone, third baseman Steve Nickel and back-up catcher Andy Gardner have made to this season.
Nick Baker came on to get a strikeout and leave the bases loaded in that third frame.
Baker would give up three hits as Trinity trimmed the Cortland lead to 5-4 in the fifth, and the game could have been tied up if catcher Sean Killeen’s blast to deepest left had not been barely foul. But all day long Cortland had responded to challenges.
In the top of the sixth with two outs, Nickel having just been thrown out a the plate trying to score on a Caughey grounder to short, the Red Dragons came up with two runs with two outs to go back ahead 7-4.
Anthony Coromato legged out an infield single after Trinity first baseman Dan Graham made a great diving play to keep his sharply hit ball out of right field, and Maycock followed with an RBI single. And intentional walk to Zaccardo loaded the bases and an unintentional walk to shortstop Matt Vitalone in a dramatic 12-pitch at bat — as the junior fouled off six two-strike pitches to stay alive — forced a second run home.
Trinity College pulled to within 7-6 in the bottom of the seventh with three hits, including a two-run James Wood single off reliever Nick Serio.
Again Cortland responded by scoring three times in the top of the eighth started by a Caughey leadoff single. Maycock drove in his fourth run and Travis Robinson came up with a clutch two-out single to build a four-run cushion.
After giving up the hit to Wood, Serio retired the final eight batters he faced to send Cortland into the championship round.
Cortland 17, St. John Fisher 3: Cortland actually trailed 3-2 before five runs in the bottom of the fourth broke this game open. They scored 14 times in the fourth through sixth innings, which enabled Coach Brown to rest some regulars.
Zaccardo had hit early home run, doubled off the fence in right and delivered a two-run single before getting the day off. Robinson drove in three runs, Basnight and Coromato scored three times and 11 different Dragons would collect hits.
Senior right-hander Mike Zgorlewski benefited from all of this offensive support and gave Cortland what it needed — a complete game pitching performance.
He allowed eight hits, with three strikeouts and a lone walk, while improving to 7-0.
Co-leaders in A Division continue to roll unbeaten
Grand Rental Station and Central City Bar & Grill stayed perfect after five games and deadlocked atop the A Division of the Cortland Men’s Slow Pitch League with victories Friday night.
Grand Rental Station was a 23-20 winner over Dark Horse, while Central City rolled past St. Charles Hotel/Hubbard’s Cupboard 21-6.
In the B Division, NAPA stayed perfect at 6-0 with a 6-5 win over Stafford Chevrolet, while Friends was a 21-6 winner over Time Warner Cable.
Division action saw CCRP move into a share of first place with a 24-15 win over King Sub, while T.J. Landscaping won for the first time this season, 21-3 over winless Collegiate Catastrophe.
No other results were reported prior to deadline.
Grand Rental Station 23, Dark Horse 20: Ryan Stevens went 5-for-5 and scored three times while Casey Crandall went 3-for-4 with a home run and three runs and Dan Harris 3-for-5 with two homers and three runs for the winners. Seth Montgomery (homer, two runs) and Tom Avery (double, two runs) both went 2-for-4 for Grand Rental, while Jamie Buck (homer, three runs) and Brian Taylor (double, two runs) were both 2-for-5.
Jason Bennison went 5-for-5 with five runs for Dark Horse, while Tony George (homer, three runs) went 4-for-5, Dave Claiser (homer, two runs) 3-for-5 and Scott Batzer 3-for-4. Gabe Newton (two runs) and Chris Hayes were both 2-for-4, while Scott Potter (double, two runs) and Shawn Murphy (two runs) were 2-for-5.
Central City 21, St. Charles 6: a 10-run third inning keyed the Central City victory as Fred Ott went 4-for-4 with two RBIs and Cory Langtry 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI while Adam Levine (RBI) and T.J. Griffen (two doubles) both went 2-for-4. B. Hollenbeck went 2-for-3 for St. Charles.
NAPA 6, Stafford Chevrolet 5: NAPA scored the first six runs of the game and held on as Dan Jampole went 3-for-3 with a double and three RBIs, Dustin Darnell 2-for-3 with two doubles and Gianluca Canzano 2-for-3 with a double. Tim Slocum (triple), C. Mott, D. Stinefeld, L. Finnerty and Parson all went 2-for-3 in the losing cause.
Friends 21, Time Warner 6: Ryan O’Donnell hit for the cycle and went 4-for-5 as Friends triumphed, scoring five times in the first inning and never looking back in a 44-hit performance. Chris Willcox went 5-for-5 with a triple and a double for the winners, while Dave Gascho went 4-for-5 with a double and Mike Russell 3-for-4 with two doubles. Burns (triple, double) and Taylor (triple) both went 2-for-3 for Time Warner.
CCRP 24, King Sub 15: CCRP scored 11 runs in the sixth inning to break open a close game. Jeremy B went 4-for-4 with two homers for the winners, while Ozzie H. and Rob A. both went 3-for-4. Going 3-for-4 for King Sub were Tony Bates (homer0, Miguel M., S. Snyder and B. Cable.
T.J. Landscaping 21, Collegiate Catastrophe 3: In a game in which no first names were reported for either team, Tom Barber had a triple, two doubles and three RBIs to lead the way for T.J. Landscaping. P. Semeraro’s double was the only extra-base hit for Collegiate Catastrophe.
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