CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA (CORTLAND ATHLETICS) –
Cortland rallied for four runs in a wild bottom of the eighth inning and the nationally 15th-ranked Red Dragons stayed alive at the NCAA Division III World Series with a 4-2 victory over seventh-ranked Rowan University.
Cortland (32-8) will face the loser of Saturday night’s final game between Salisbury and Wheaton (Mass.) in an elimination game Sunday at 4:30 p.m. (Central). That game was originally scheduled for 1:15 p.m., but the NCAA committee elected to flip two games on the tournament schedule due to the Salisbury-Wheaton game ending well past midnight. If Cortland is victorious, the Red Dragons would be scheduled to play again in Sunday’s final game of the day versus Saturday’s Salisbury-Wheaton winner.
Rowan, which closes the season at 29-6, took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth. Jared Marks led off with a double against Cortland starter Ryan Flansburg (Queensbury). He was bunted to third by Trip McCaffrey and scored on a two-out Victor Cruz RBI single through the left side. Bailey Gauthier (Camillus/West Genesee) entered in relief at that point and got a flyout to end the inning with runners on first and second.
Cortland only got runners into scoring position twice over the first seven innings. The Red Dragons had runners on second and third with one out in the second after a Scott Giordano (Croton-on-Hudson/Croton-Harmon) single and a Daniel Coleman (Saratoga Springs) double, but Rowan starter Eli Atiya recorded a strikeout and a flyout. Giordano singled to lead off the seventh but was stranded at second after two Atiya strikeouts.
Ben Rhodes (Amsterdam) doubled to right to lead off the bottom of the eighth. Andrew Michalski (Buffalo/St. Francis) put down a sacrifice bunt to third, and a wild throw by the third baseman allowed Rhodes to score the tying run and Michalski to advance all the way to third. Matthew Krafft’s (Cornwall) single through a drawn-in infield brought in Michalski with the go-ahead run.
Krafft moved to second on a Chris Bonacci (Syracuse/West Genesee) sac bunt. It then appeared that Krafft was picked off second, but Cortland requested a video review – something that exists only at the World Series level – and the call was overturned and Krafft remained at second. Colin BeVard (Syracuse/West Genesee) then hit a fly ball down the right field line that just landed fair, then bounced over the fence in foul territory for an RBI ground rule double and a 3-1 lead.
Pinch runner Paul Franzese (Somers) went to third on a Giordano groundout and Mat Bruno (Rye) was hit by a pitch. Cortland then attempted a first-and-third double steal, and Franzese was initially called out at home to end the inning. The second video review of the inning, however, determined that the Rowan player applying the tag at home had his glove come off, thereby making Franzese safe to give Cortland a 4-1 advantage.
Rowan mounted a comeback attempt in the top of the ninth. Marks led off with a double, took third on a groundout, and scored on Ryan McIsaac double to deep left. Gauthier, however, closed out the win with a flyout to center and a grounder to short, with Rhodes making a nice spin move and throw for the final out.
Gauthier improved to 6-2 with the win, allowing three hits and a run with three strikeouts and two walks in four and a third innings. It was his second longest outing of the season, behind a four and two thirds stint for a win versus Brockport in the SUNYAC semifinals. Flansburg allowed one run on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts over the first four and two thirds innings.
Atiya, who finishes the year with a 9-2 record, gave up three runs on seven hits over seven and a third innings. He fanned six batters and walked one.
Krafft finished 2-for-3 with a walk and RBI and Giordano was 2-for-4 for the Red Dragons. Rhodes ended 1-for-3 with a double. For Rowan, Marks and McIsaac each doubled twice.