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May 20, 2009

 

Purple Lions roar into finals

Conquers Candor 4-1 at Hoy Field

Lions

Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Dryden shortstop Colby Gee turns a double play as Jake Tubbs of Candor slides into the bag during Wednesday’s IAC semifinal game at Cornell. Dryden moved on to the finals, winning 4-1.

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

ITHACA — Matt Colbert tossed a five-hitter and Cory Goodenough provided the offensive spark to propel Dryden High to a 4-1 win over Candor in the Interscholastic Athletic Conference baseball playoff semifinals played under sunny skies at Cornell University’s Hoy Field Tuesday.
The win sends the Purple Lions (16-3 overall) into the IAC championship game Thursday against Newfield (17-3), a 1-0 winner over Elmira Heights Edison in the other semifinal game. That showdown is also at Hoy Field, starting at 4 p.m.
Colbert struck out six Candor batters and was hitting his marks most of the game before Candor finally plated its run in the top of the fifth inning.
“I am pleased with OUR outing,” said Colbert. “It takes more than one guy to win a ball game. Cory got us going in the first inning with his triple. That got us going and gave us momentum. Whenever your lead-off batter gets on base, it is a big benefit to your team.
“I have pitched on this field in the Empire State Games,” the senior left-hander added. “I like it because you feel like you are right on top of the batter. I really love pitching here. I had command of my pitches and you need that against Candor because they can hit the ball so well.”
“Matt pitched a nice game today,” said Dryden coach Kim Brown. “He only had 53 pitches through the first five innings. He did struggle a little in the final two innings, but he battling through it. He was hitting his spots and kept the Candor batters off balance. He threw just 87 pitches overall.”
After Colbert retired Candor in order in the top of the first inning, Goodenough (2-for-3) opened up the Dryden half of the inning with a triple down the left field line that was just out of the reach of a diving Seth Standinger. Goodenough scampered into third and would score on a wild pitch by Cody Rose.
It was Goodenough who again came through with one out in the third inning. The senior ripped a stand-up triple into right-centerfield this time around. With two outs, he scored on a two-out single by Colby Gee (2-for-3). Gee stole second before Colbert drew a walk. Wayne Dougherty (2-for-3) made it 3-0 with a double down the left field line that scored Gee and moved Colbert to third base, but Rose got out of the inning with a flyout.
“The first at-bat I was just looking to put the ball in play,” said Goodenough. “The second time, I saw a lot of pitches by working to a full count. I knew I could drive the ball and I got the pitch to do that. It feels good to get to third base with the big hitters coming up, know that one of them will probably drive me in.”
“Cory has done this for us for three years now,” said Brown. “It is big for the lead-off kid to get a triple and get us going. It put pressure on Cody early and that was important. It made him throw strikes and it helped us hit the ball.”
THE PURPLE LIONS plated their final run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Gee singled and hustled all the way to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Colbert. A passed ball allowed Gee to scoot home for a 4-0 lead.
Candor (15-3) got solo runners on base in the second, fourth and fifth inning after singles, but twice the Purple Lion defense turned double plays, In fact, both twin-killings were Goodenough (second base) to Gee (shortstop) to Vanderbilt (first base).
“Fielding the ball is nice on the artificial turf,” Goodenough explained. “The ball does get to you quicker, but it is always a good, clean hop. You just have to get in front of the ball. It was like taking ground balls in the gym at the beginning of the season. We were in the gym a lot this season, so I am use to it.”
“I would like to thank TC3 for letting us get on their turf so the guys could get a feel for how quick the ball does get to you,” Brown added in the preparation for playing on the all-turf infield and outfield at Cornell. “The biggest adjustment was actually running the basepaths. You have to slide, but pop-up quickly at the bag on this surface with no dirt. We would love to play more games here at Cornell.”
The Indians finally broke through in the top of the sixth inning. Brett Bensley led off with a triple to deep centerfield. He scored on a ground out by Standinger. The only other Candor hit was a double by Jimmy Zacharias in the top of the seventh inning with two outs.
Rose worked the first six innings with Mick Thomas on for the seventh inning. Thomas brought a big change in the delivery with a nice knuckleball that baffled the Dryden hitters.
This 16-win season is a big step for the Dryden baseball program that has been turning the corner under Coach Brown that past five seasons.
“Many of us on the team starting playing varsity ball as sophomores and some as freshman,” Colbert stated. “We have been building the program over the past few years. It is nice to finally showcase our (school’s) name and be able to play for an IAC overall title.”
“This season really is awesome,” Goodenough added. “Most of us have been together three or four years. It is nice to get to the playoffs and we will now try to take care of business. It is a lot of fun. This is something that we have been working for.”
“I HAVE SAID this all year long,” said Brown. “We have been building to this point for three years. We have had the talented guys that could make the move up to varsity and contribute right away. Theses guys are now juniors and seniors and they know they have the opportunity to take advantage of the situations being presented to us.”
Another good point of reaching the IAC Tournament, it gives Brown and the Purple Lions some games to this week so the team isn’t idle before sectionals.
“I told the guys that if we were not fortunate enough to reach the championship game, I was still going to look for another game for us to play,” said Brown. “We now get another shot to definitely play on Thursday. It gives us another chance to prepare for sectionals, but it also gives us a shot at an overall league championship. We are going to give it our best shot.”
All four teams in the IAC Tournament will hear word of their sectional tournament fate by the end of the week and the second season will begin in earnest.
Newfield 1, Elmira Heights Edison 0: Newfield freshman Nikko Nunez tossed a three-hit shutout as the Trojans (17-3) advance to the championship with the 1-0 win. Nunez struck out five Edison batters for a Trojan team that won its first division title in 12 years.
Ironically, the Spartans (17-3) got an equally great performance from Zak Kelly had he tossed a one-hitter with eight strikeouts, but suffered the loss.
Newfield’s lone run came in the top of the first inning. Kelly hit Nunez, who was the lead-off batter for the Trojans. Nunez would score on a single by Marcus Dunham for the only run in the game.