CORTLAND, N.Y. (SUNY CORTLAND ATHLETICS) –

Paul Franzese’s (Somers) three-run homer capped a five-run top of the eighth inning as Cortland rallied past Endicott, 10-7, in a winner’s bracket game of the 2022 NCAA Division III Cortland, N.Y., Baseball Regional at Wallace Field.

Cortland (35-10), the top seed at the four-team, double-elimination regional and ranked eighth nationally in Division III, will face Endicott in the championship round Sunday at 9 a.m. Endicott (38-8), the second seed and ranked 19th nationally, stayed alive later in the day Saturday with an 18-8 win over St. John Fisher and the Gulls need to defeat Cortland twice Sunday to win the regional.

Cortland fell behind 7-2 after three innings but kept the Gulls off the scoreboard the rest of the way. The Red Dragons scored three runs in the fourth on back-to-back RBI doubles from James Varian (Hopewell Junction/Trinity-Pawling) and Ben Rhodes (Amsterdam) and an RBI single by Antonio Pragana (Hopewell Junction/John Jay).

The Red Dragons’ eighth-inning rally started with Pragana’s one-out double, followed by an Andrew Michalski (Buffalo/St. Francis) single. Scott Giordano (Croton-on-Hudson/Croton-Harmon) doubled down the right field line to drive in two runs to tie the game at 7-7. Danny Coleman (Saratoga Springs) was intentionally walked and, two batters later, Franzese hit a blast to center that hit near the top of the batter’s eye to give Cortland a 10-7 lead.

Cortland led 2-0 in the second on a Rhodes RBI groundout and a Matthew Krafft (Cornwall) sac fly. Endicott, the designated “home” team in the contest, got a run in the bottom of the second on a Joseph Millar sac fly, and the Gulls exploded for six runs in the third to take a 7-2 lead. The big hits in that frame were a John Mulready RBI double, a Kyle Grabowski two-run homer and a Caleb Shpur two-run double.

Zack Durant (Verona/V-V-S) started for Cortland and allowed three runs on three hits in two and a third innings. Shane Mugnolo (Howard Beach/Xaverian) entered during the third inning and was charged with four runs in that inning, but he settled down and didn’t allow a run over the next three and a third innings, including 1-2-3 innings in the fourth and fifth. Endicott had two runners on via walks with one out in the sixth before Krafft, at first base, made a leaping catch on a line drive by Jake Nardone and doubled up the runner on first to end the inning.

Liam Krasney (Greenville) entered the game in the bottom of the seventh with one out and a runner on first. He struck out the first batter he faced, hit the next, but got a groundout to end the inning. After Cortland took the lead in the eighth, Krasney allowed just one runner on an error in the eighth and one on a two-out walk in the ninth and earned his first victory of the season.

Endicott starter Nicholas Cannata allowed five runs in three and a third innings. Will Fox tossed two scoreless innings of relief. Max Tarlin was tagged with the five runs in the eighth to suffer the loss.

Cortland finished with 15 hits, led by Varian going 4-for-5 with an RBI and Pragana finishing 3-for-5 with an RBI. Franzese was 2-for-4 with a walk, three RBI and three runs, Rhodes finished 2-for-5 with two RBI, and Michalski ended 2-for-3 with a walk. Dylan Pacheco was 2-for-4 with a walk and Shpur and Grabowski each ended with two RBI for Endicott.