Following a tough opening game loss to fourth-seeded Oneonta, Cortland found themselves playing a second game on Saturday, this time with their backs against the wall. Facing elimination, the Red Dragons played host to #3 Fredonia (who lost to #2 Oswego), and ultimately prevailed 1-0 in ten innings.
Coach Joe Brown leaned on Starting Pitcher Matt Valin, even into extra innings, and it paid off big time. It took a ten-inning complete game shutout featuring a SUNYAC Tournament record and Cortland school record-tying 17 strikeouts from Valin for Cortland to out-duel Fredonia and starter Sam Cestra. Cestra surrendered eleven hits and five walks, but was able to hold the Cortland offense scoreless until two outs in the tenth inning. Offensively, RF Mat Bruno led the way with a trio of hits, as one of just two Red Dragons with a multi-hit performance; catcher Garrett Hunter being the other.
Cortland squandered a number of opportunities to get on the board in regulation; the best of which came in the seventh inning. Scott Giordano led off the frame with a double off the wall in left field, followed by an infield single by Colin BeVard. Dan Schweitzer stepped into the batter’s box with runners on the corners and nobody out. Schweizter’s bunt attempt landed in the glove of Fredonia’s Sam Cestra for the first out, then Wyatt Myers grounded out to third, and James Varian popped out.
Cortland’s next great chance to jump in front came in the ninth inning with a chance to win it. Scott Giordano reached on a hit-by-pitch, to lead off the inning, then moved up to second on a successful sacrifice bunt by BeVard. Following an intentional walk, Myers and Varian each grounded out, sending the game to extra innings.
One inning later, pinch-hitter Joe Tardiff led off with a single into right-field and found himself in scoring position after another successful Cortland sac-bunt. The next hitter, Garrett Hunter, sent a line-drive into right, leading Coach Brown to send Tardiff to the plate but to no avail, as he was thrown out. One pitch later, however, another pinch-hitter, Steven Salisbury sent a base hit into left, allowing Hunter to dive safely into home plate and give Cortland the victory.
The next test for the Red Dragons to stay alive comes Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. against the loser of #2 Oswego and #4 Oneonta.