Red Dragons ride arms to remain alive
Mike Hughes got Cortland State one win closer to the
By Pat Coleman, D3sports.com
GRAND CHUTE, Wis. – Mike Hughes threw 7-1/3 innings and the bullpen finished it off with a scoreless inning and two-thirds as Cortland State defeated Whitworth 5-4 on Monday in an elimination game at the 2012 Division III World Series.
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Shortstop John Adornetto went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored, Andrew Pezzuto had two hits and scored twice, but it was the pitching that carried the day for the Red Dragons (40-8-1).
It’s a far cry from Cortland’s last visit to the Fox Cities, when the Red Dragons posted a World Series-worst 11.94 ERA. On this third day, the Red Dragons had all the pitching they needed.
Hughes improved to 9-2, with Brendan Hourihan coming in for two key outs in the eighth, while Tom Nagy pitched a hitless ninth for his fourth save of the season.
“That’s why we felt very confident coming out here,” said Cortland coach Joe Brown. “We felt we had three very very good front-line guys and a couple guys behind them who probably can throw very well. We’ll see that soon. We’re confident. I gotta let them play.”
Cortland jumped out on top in the bottom of the first, as Michael La Tempa’s two-out single drove in Andrew Pezzuto from third and John Adornetto from second for the first two runs of the game.
Whitworth answered in the third, however, taking advantage of a bit of Hughes’ wildness to push three runs across. Gerhard Muelheims led off the inning with a walk and came around to score on a Tyler Pfeffer double to right-center. After Landon Scott walked, J.R. Jarrell smacked a single to right-center to bring Pfeffer in and put runners on the corners. Joshua Davis followed with a safety squeeze to give the Pirates a 3-2 lead.
Fun Fact from the Record Book
Cortland State has a 4.00 ERA through three games in the 2012 D-III World Series. In 2010, Cortland State tied a record for highest ERA in the series with 11.94. The Red Dragons set the record in their first appearance in 1995 then they went 0-2 in Salem, Va.
“Mikey hung in there after one rough inning where the ball was up a little bit, partially probably because he hasn’t pitched in a while,” Brown said.
“I was still confident,” Hughes said. “I knew my defense would make plays. I just had to throw strikes. They did a good job getting the bat on the ball but if I threw strikes I knew my defense would back me up.”
Hughes followed by setting down the next six batters in order, with two strikeouts, two pop-ups and a comebacker. Meanwhile, Whitworth freshman left-hander Spencer Ansett was matching Hughes, putting up four consecutive goose eggs on the scoreboard to keep the Pirates (31-16-1) in front.
Adornetto got things started for the Red Dragons in the bottom of the sixth, leading off with a bunt for a base hit. “I see the defense playing back and I’m just trying to get on base,” Adornetto said, “so I can help my team out and get me on and in when it’s tight games like that.”
“The first baseman was playing far back the whole game and the second baseman wasn’t anywhere close either.”
“That’s a read,” Brown said, “and he does it very well. “Not many No. 3 hitters will say ‘hey, I want to bunt’ to do it, but he understands that. Wheaton defended us really well on that yesterday.”
Following the bunt, Max Rosing hit an RBI double to the track in right-center. After Michael LaTempa followed with a grounder to second, P.J. Rinaldi dumped a single into right to score Rosing and give Cortland the 4-3 lead. Ansett got two strikeouts to end the threat but was chased in the seventh when Pezzuto hit a double off the top of the wall. Adornetto smacked a base hit through the middle off reliever Jason Renner past a diving Nick Motsinger to bring him around.
“Warming up, I saw that he wasn’t locating his offspeed,” Adornetto said, “so I was sitting fastball the whole at-bat. He got behind on me. I could see his grip a little bit from behind so I knew what kind of pitch was coming. So I just tried to put my best swing on it and find a hole.”
The extra cushion was needed when Landon Scott reached on a one-out single to center and chugged all the way around on a double by J.R. Jarrell to cut the lead to 5-4. But Hourihan came in to get two outs and end the threat, and Tom Nagy walked the leadoff man but recovered to pitch a scoreless ninth and pick up his fourth save on the season.
With Cortland starters pitching into the seventh, eighth and ninth in their three outings in Appleton, the outlook is much different from 2010, even though that set of Red Dragons reached a winner-take-all title game against Illinois Wesleyan.
“Two years ago when we were here we couldn’t get a starter out of the third inning and we felt that was something that was going to hurt us,” said Hourihan, who is one of just two players back from the 2010 World Series roster and has tied the school record for career pitching appearances with 71. “Now we know we have starters that are going to go deep into games and are going to give us a shot. Ray (Angelucci), Aaron (Schuldt) and Mikey have been our top three all year and we know every time they go out there we’ve got a chance to win.”
Cortland State advances to Tuesday, likely to play St. Thomas at a time to be determined.