May 24, 2007
Red Dragons ready for challenge
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
SUNYCortland pitcher Jimmy Dougher brings an 8-1 record and a nation-best 0.49 ERA into the Division III World Series that opens Friday in Wisconsin.
The most definitive thing to say about the SUNY Cortland baseball team is they are certainly prepared for this challenge.
When the Red Dragons take the field at Fox Cities Stadium Friday night to get the NCAA Division III World Series underway in the Wisconsin town of Grand Chute, they should not be in awe of the task at hand.
A successful April trip to Florida against tough competition, another early season weekend spent competing against past national champions Montclair State and William Paterson, a first place regular season finish and a playoff title in a SUNY Athletic Conference Coach Joe Brown calls the best league in New York State and last week’s comeback journey through the loser’s bracket to win an NCAA regional title has this team more than ready for more combat.
Cortland brings a sparkling 40-5 record into the double elimination tournament, where eight teams will battle over five days to determine a national champion.
“We’re as ready as any team in the country to compete on a national level,” says Cortland catcher Mike Zaccardo, the SUNYAC Player of the Year. “We are ready. We have been challenged all year. We’ve had some ups and downs, with more up than downs, and we have been tested in regionals. We’ve been in battles before.”
The Red Dragons face Kean from New Jersey at 8:45 p.m. local time in the last of four games on opening day. Friday’s schedule has Emory (39-8) and Wisconsin-Stevens Point (32-15) at 11 a.m., Carthage College (36-11) and Eastern Connecticut State (38-10) at 2:15 p.m. and Chapman (40-6) against Marietta College (32-15) at 5:30 p.m.
“If we get a guy pounding 90 at us, we’re going to be confident because we’ve seen it,” said Coach Brown, referring to facing 90 miles per hour pitches. “If we get a team that tries to hit and run and put pressure on us, we’ve seen that, too. We’ll be prepared.”
Not that everything is smooth sailing.
As Coach Brown says prior to Cortland’s eighth appearance in the World Series, “The biggest thing for us is to get some players healthy.”
Outfielders Jim Basnight and Anthony Coromato, who have recently batted leadoff and second respectively in the batting order, were injured during last week’s regional victory in Auburn.
Senior Basnight has made strides recovering from an elbow injury, and Coach Brown is pleased with the progress made by junior Coromato in rehabilitating a leg injury. Whether either gets in the line-up will be decided game-to-game, and Brown is not sure either will be performing at 100 percent if they do get see playing time.
Pitching and defense has been crucial to Cortland success, and the pitching staff of seniors Jimmy Dougher (8-1) and Mike Zgorzewlki (7-0), sophomore left-hander George Jweid (7-1) and freshman southpaw Matt Tone (7-0) will be vital in this post-season test.
Not that Cortland can’t hit the ball, too.
Freshman designated hitter and back-up catcher Andersen Gardner (.457), catcher Zaccardo (.419), Cortland High alum and outfielder Sean Caughey (.406), shortstop Matt Vitalone (.394) and outfielder Dan Maycock (.383) all have hit well this year. Zaccardo leads the team eight home runs, with Vitalone and Maycock smacking seven apiece. Maycock has driven in 63 runs, a school single-season record.
Cortland has been on this national stage before, having finished second at the 2005 World Series. The Red Dragons made five consecutive World Series appearances from 1997-2001, and have qualified for the NCAA tournament for the 15th consecutive year this spring, the longest active streak in Division III.
Cortland and Kean will be meeting for the first time on the diamond, though both are football foes in the New Jersey Athletic Conference in the fall.
The Red Dragons and Eastern Connecticut State have played five times, with Eastern leading 3-2. The Warriors defeated Cortland twice on the final day of the 2006 NCAA New York Regional to earn a trip to the World Series.
Cortland trails the overall series versus Carthage 2-1. Carthage defeated Cortland in the 1997 World Series opener. Cortland defeated the Red Men in Florida this spring, 6-2.
The Red Dragons are 1-1 lifetime versus both Chapman and defending national champion Marietta. The Red Dragons lost to Chapman in the 2000 Series but defeated the Panthers from California in the 2005 Series. Cortland lost its first-ever Series game to Marietta in 1995 and beat the Pioneers in Florida during the 2005 regular season.
Cortland has never faced either Emory or Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Full tournament information, including links to game video Web casts and live in-game stats, is available online at:
Dougher looks to dominate
The most memorable game played in last week’s NCAA Division III New York State Regional was the one the SUNY Cortland baseball team lost.
That may have been the best game senior Jimmy Dougher ever pitched, too — and that is saying a lot.
The right-hander battled into the 11th inning before his stellar 136-pitch performance came to a close, before head coach Joe Brown reluctantly turned to his bullpen. Trinity College from Connecticut went on to win 2-1 in the 13th inning over the top-seeded Red Dragons, though gritty Cortland came back to win four straight games over the next two days to take the regional title.
Dougher gave up a lone eighth inning run, allowed just four hits and struck out 14 batters in that confrontation against Trinity standout Tim Kiely. The match-up of top Division III pitching prospects had major league scouts perched behind home plate at Falcon Park in Auburn with notebooks in their laps and speed guns constantly pointed towards the two combatants.
“Yeah, I guess,” said Dougher of whether the extra-inning loss was his finest moment as a Red Dragon. “I’ve thrown some good games in my career, but if you figure in how big the game was and how well the other pitcher was throwing then it was probably the best game I’ve pitched.”
Afterwards, attending to chores in the team’s hotel, Coach Brown found Dougher stretched out face down in the hallway. He was simply worn out from the experience, which he called “emotionally draining.”
And how many pitchers give up a lone run over 11 innings and actually have their earned run average_go up?
It has been that kind of season for Dougher, who will conclude his career as a Red Dragon in the NCAA Division III World Series that gets underway Friday in Wisconsin. Dougher is expected to be the starting pitcher when the Red Dragons (40-5) take on New Jersey’s Kean University (39-8) in a first round game Friday at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute.
The 6-foot-7, 230-pounder does not mind the challenge of that opening day assignment, crucial to any team’s success in a double elimination tournament that will have eight teams battling for a World Series_title.
“No, I want it,” said Dougher, never one to shirk responsibility.
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Oneonta’s Galutz on all-region team
Brandon Galutz could wind up his collegiate baseball career as an All-America performer.
The Cortland High alum just finished his senior season as an outfielder at SUNY Oneonta and was recently named to the All-New York Region first team squad. Being selected to the first team automatically puts Galutz on the national ballot to be considered as an All-American in Division III.
Galutz batted .336 for the Red Dragons, who reached the SUNY Athletic Conference playoff title game only to be beating by Cortland. He led the team with 43 runs scored, eight home runs, 44 RBI,_90 total bases and a .616 slugging percentage.
For his four-year career in Oneonta, Galutz hit .323 with 14 home runs and 26 stolen bases. Oneonta finished 29-13, its season ending with a loss to St. John Fisher in the ECAC Upstate tournament final.
CORTLAND HAD five players named to the All-New York Region squad. Picked for the first team were senior pitcher Jimmy Dougher, junior catcher Mike Zaccardo and senior outfielder Dan Maycock.
Freshman designated hitter Andersen Gardner and senior pitcher Mike Zgorzelski were second team choices.
Cortland also cleaned up when it came to SUNY Athletic Conference all-league honors.
Dougher was named the Pitcher of the Year for the third straight
season, while Zaccardo was named Player of the Year. Gardner earned the Clark Whited Rookie of the Year Award, while eighth year head man Joe Brown was the Coach of the Year.
Joining Dougher, Zaccardo and Gardner on the All-SUNYAC first team were junior shortstop Matt Vitalone, sophomore third baseman Paul Merriweather and junior outfielder and Cortland High grad Sean Caughey.