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June 19, 2008

 

Strong Cortland start tops Homer

Cortland

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland’s Steve Wright returns to the dugout after being congratulated by teammates after hitting a two run homer in the bottom of the second inning of Wednesday’s 9-8 win over Homer Post 465.

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

A seven-run outburst over the first two innings, capped by a Steven Wright two-run homer in the top of the second, helped the Cortland Connie Mack baseball squad jump out to a 7-1 lead en route to a 9-8 win over Homer American Legion Post 465 Wednesday.
Cortland improves to 4-2 after the non-league win, while host Homer slips to 1-1.
“This was a very good win over a quality program,” said Cortland coach Ed Griswold. “I tried to impress on these kids that we are just a good as they are, even though Homer is at a higher level (American Legion) compared to us in Connie Mack. I told the guys to believe in themselves and we are coming around as a team.”
“We not going to win many games against a quality team like Cortland,” said Homer coach Rob Nasiatka about falling behind 7-1. “Ed coaches a nice team. They played together a lot. They practice a lot. We need to get that kind of commitment from some of our players for the summer. We need to give 100 percent. You cannot spot a team seven runs.
“I do have to give our guys a lot of credit,” Nasiatka continued. “We did battle back. It took us while this (varsity) season to get going, but I hope it does not take a lot of time to get going this summer. This is really a non-league game for us so it is a chance to learn from our mistakes and keep improving.”
Cortland jumped on Post 465 starting pitcher Andy Pagan quickly.
After Brandon Watkins walked, stole second base and Wright struck out, Ryann Hubbard singled to put runners at the corners. Hubbard stole second and both runners scored on an Ian Spafford (2-for-4) double into the left-centerfield gap. Jason Hogan (2-for-3) drew a walk before Justin Burns ripped a triple into rightfield to put Cortland on top 4-0.
Homer got one run back in the bottom of the first as Brandon Simonetta (2-for-3) drew a lead-off walk off Matt Carr. Simonetta stole second and moved to third on a passed ball. After Nick Biondi walked, Eric Rosato (2-for-3) hit into a double play, but Simonetta scored on the play.
Cortland added three more runs quickly in the second to chase Pagan from the hill. Tony Whitt singled and stole second. Watkins reached on an error as Whitt moved to third. Whitt scored and Watkins moved to second on a balk. Wright then belted his home run over the centerfield fence for a 7-1 cushion.
Simonetta came on to pitch for Homer and retired the next three batters to end the Cortland attack. Simonetta pitched well, giving up just two unearned runs in the fourth inning, his final inning of work. He gave up four hits and struck out three.
MEANWHILE, HOME crept back into the game. Pagan led off the second inning with a double and moved to third on an error and Alex Duell was safe at first. Another passed ball allowed Pagan to score and Duell moved to second. After a wild pitch, Duell stood at third with one out. After issuing another walk, Carr struck out Jon Galeotti and got Zach Randolph to pop-out to second base to end the threat.
Post 465 came right back and plated three more runs in the third to close to within 7-5. Simonetta singled and stole second. Biondi was hit by a pitch. After both runners advanced one base on a wild pitch, Rosato walked to load the bases. Anthony Brevetti was hit by a pitch to force in one run. Pagan hit into a fielder’s choice that allowed Biondi to score. With runners still at the corners, Pagan was picked off at first, but during the rundown, Rosato scored from third to make the score 7-5.
 The fourth inning started well defensively for Homer with a line drive that Simonetta snared and threw to first. Wright singled to right field and tried to stretch the hit into a double but was out at second after a strong throw by Mike Riehlman to Brevetti for the tag. Hubbard reached on an error and Spafford singled to put runners at the corners. Jason Hogan followed with a single to left field that scored Hubbard and allowed Spafford to reach third base. An errant pick-off throw to third base sailed wide and Spafford scored for a 9-5 Cortland lead.
Watkins came on in relief for Cortland in the fourth. Post 465 got one run off him in the fifth. Biondi and Rosato had back-to-back singles with a wild pitch moving each runner up one base. Brevetti grounded out, but Biondi scored and Rosato went to third. With a 9-6 lead, Watkins got a pop fly to second base for the second out and Whitt made a great play at short by grabbing a grounder and throwing to first for the final out of the inning. Whitt sucked up any ball near him with Hoover-like precision as he finished with five putouts and five assists.
Ryne Austin came on to pitch the final three innings for Homer and was the picture of efficiency by allowing just two hits while hitting on batter. Austin faced 10 batters total, counting the hit batter, over the three innings and retired the Cortland squad on 24 total pitches.
“RYNE DID A great job,” said Nasiatka. “Ryne is a good closer and he does a very good job there.
“Brandon had a couple of bad breaks where errors allowed an inning to continue,” Nasiatka added. “I fault myself from leaving Andy Pagan in too long. I have not worked with Andy before or coached him. I was not sure what to expect with him. I thought he might bounce back, but he didn’t. It will just take some time to get to know what he can do. I know he is a good pitcher and one of the very good players I have from Tully.”
Post 465 made one last rally in the bottom of the seventh. Ricky Newman led off with a single, but was forced out at second on a grounder back to the pitcher. With Biondi safe on the fielder’s choice, a wild pitch moved him to second. Rosato belted an 0-2 pitch over the centerfield fence to pull Homer to within 9-8.
Watkins regained his focused as he got the final two batters to hit grounders to Whitt, who fielded both balls cleanly and made the throws to first base for the outs.
“We asked Matt to give us all he could,” said Griswold. “He has a sore hip right now and that throws everything out of kilter in his mechanics.
“We knew Brandon would come on in a mop-up role,” Griswold continued. “He did a good job, but we were prepared to go to Steven Wright if needed because we really wanted this win.”
As for the play of his young shortstop, Griswold added these thoughts.
“Tony played great,” said Griswold. “That was fun to watch. The kid has been solid for us all year long. He made one error in the first game. He has really worked hard, as have all the guys.”
Cortland will travel to Ithaca Friday to face Ithaca at 6 p.m.
Homer will return to action Saturday, traveling to Ithaca to face Post 221 in a 10 a.m. doubleheader.