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May 27, 2009

 

Purple Tigers come out swinging

Romp past visiting Comets in soggy start to sectionals

Tigers

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland High’s Alex Stacy (2) rounds second base in the fifth inning on a line drive single by Devon Darrow during Tuesday’s 16-1 win over Carthage to open up Section 3 Class A tournament play.

By TANEY BEAUMONT
Staff Writer

It was a wet, wild and winning afternoon for the Cortland High baseball team Tuesday as it opened Section 3 Class A play against Carthage at Beaudry Park.
The fifth -seeded Purple Tigers got a complete-game four-hitter with six strikeouts from junior right-hander Brandon Watkins, jumped on Comets starter Jordan Soukup for four runs in the first inning and never looked back in rolling to a 16-1 victory over their 12th-seeded visitors in a game that was called after five and a half innings as a steady rain got even heavier.
The distance Carthage traveled for the game and wanting to prevent it from being necessary two days in a row were the reasons the contest was played under the dreary, wet conditions. The final Comet batter of the game lost his grip on the bat just prior to striking out, and after the side was retired in the top of the sixth the umpires and head coaches met and, considering the score and the conditions, agreed that the game should be ended.
“The kids came out ready to play and jumped on them early,” said Cortland coach John Tobin, his team now 13-6 on the season. “Everyone pulled together. We had a lot of different kids driving in runs and did things they had to do.
“The kids are excited. Last year we came close and just missed sectionals after missing out the year before, and prior to that we’d made it around 10 years in a row. Our goals coming into the season were to be competitive in the league (CHS finished third at 11-5), to make sectionals and be competitive in sectionals. It’s nice to have a home sectional game and win it, and hopefully we can parlay this into a few more wins.”
The Purple Tigers’ next chance at that, weather permitting, is Thursday, when they visit fourth-seeded New Hartford (18-6) in a 4:30 p.m. start. The Spartans advanced Tuesday with a 10-4 win over 13th-seeded Indian River (8-8).
“As long as the ball stays dry, it’s pretty much easier to pitch on a day like this,” said Watkins, now 2-1 on the season. “It’s harder on the batter, especially when it’s windy and rainy like it got to be today. My fastball was working well, and I did have trouble locating it I found the zone with the curve. The knuckleball also also working well.”
“Brandon has been a bulldog for us all year long,” Tobin said. “He never complained when we didn’t help him out so much. He’s a hard worker and was always ready. Trevor Williamson made a good catch to help him right off the bat, and though we got a bit sloppy later he basically didn’t need a whole lot of help.”
Senior centerfielder Williamson provided that assistance with his glove with a running grab of a shallow pop fly in the first inning.
The Purple Tigers also made it easier on Watkins with their early offense, scoring all the runs they’d need in the bottom of the first. Junior shortstop Tony Whitt led off with a walk and, one out later, stole second before junior third baseman Ryann Hubbard doubled to the fence in left-center to score him. Hubbard went to third on a groundout and score on an infield error that allowed Williamson to reach base before junior first baseman Justin Burns smacked a two-run homer deep to left to make it 4-0.
“Getting the early lead helped,” Watkins said. “I just had to throw strikes, and really didn’t have to be too fine with my pitches. Everyone is hitting now, and if we can continue to play good defense and the pitchers can throw strikes, I can see us going pretty far.”
The hosts scored five more runs in the third, two on a single by junior catcher Jake Robillard and one each on singles by Williamson and junior rightfielder Matt Carr. Sophomore second baseman Alex Stacy scored the other run on what amounted to a delayed double steal as a bad throw home on a rundown hit him and caromed away as he slid into home.
Carthage got its only run in the fourth as Soukup singled to right and Carr’s throw home beat Comet sophomore designated hitter Aaron Millard, whose slide jarred the ball loose from Robillard’s glove.
Hubbard homered to right with one out in the fourth, and Cortland closed out the scoring with six runs in the fifth as Whitt and Burns had two run singles, center fielder Devon Darrow singled home one run and the other scored on a balk.
Burns went 2-for-3 with the homer, four RBIs and two runs scored as the only CHS player with more than one hit. In all, 10 different Purple Tigers recorded hits in the contest.
“Their pitcher threw well, stayed around the zone and kept us off-balance,” said Carthage coach Joe Sech, whose team won the Frontier League A Division championship Saturday with wins over top-seeded Watertown and No. 2 Watertown IHC and finished the season 10-9. “Our senior starter (Soukup) threw seven innings on Saturday, and you like to go with a senior, but today wasn’t his day.
“But no excuses; things just didn’t go our way. Cortland is sharp, did a good job and has a nice group of kids. They jumped on us early, and we helped them by booting a couple of balls. Such is baseball. But I’m proud of the kids. They were up and talking until the end, and kept working,” he added.
In other Class A quarterfinals, all slated for 4:30 p.m. Thursday, top-seeded Syracuse CBA (16-8) will host No. 9 Whitesboro (9-12), 11th-seeded Vernon-Verona-Sherrill (13-10) will visit third-seeded Camden (14-4) and seventh-seeded Jamesville-DeWitt (13-8) will travel to No. 2 Mexico (16-7).
Those matchups were determined by Tuesday’s action, which saw Whitesboro beat No. 8 East Syracuse-Minoa 8-3, V-V-S upset sixth-seeded Oneida 12-0 and J-D shade No. 10 Chittenango 7-6.