Cortland bounces back after a long day of baseball

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Nick Hart leapt to snag a Taylor Kohlwey drive that was destined for extra bases, helping Cortland snap his 51-game hitting streak.
Photo by Steve Frommell,

Jeff Cooke kept a potent UW-La Crosse offense off the bases as Cortland defeated UW-La Crosse for the fourth time in two seasons.
Photo by Steve Frommell,

By Erik Buchinger

GRAND CHUTE, Wis. - In a rematch from last season’s World Series finals, Cortland defeated UW-La Crosse 8-3 on Sunday night at neuroscience group field at Fox Cities Stadium.

Jeff Cooke earned the win for the Red Dragons, throwing 7-2/3 innings, allowed nine hits, three earned runs and a walk with four strikeouts to improve his record to 8-1 on the season.

“We had a good game plan,” Cooke said. “In the first couple innings, I was leaving the ball up a little bit, and they were hitting in holes. Later in the game, I was hitting my spots more and let my defense work.”

The defense behind Cooke played an error-free game, highlighted by a pair of diving plays from Nick Hart and Fabio Ricci – both off the bat of Taylor Kohlwey, who had his 51-game hitting streak snapped after going 0-for-5.

“We’ve played good defense all year, and we’ve just continued to play good D this whole tournament,” Cooke said. “That’s just the key to winning – let your defense make the routine and exceptional plays.”

Cortland head coach Joe Brown said Cooke performed exceptionally in his first World Series appearance.

“You can have the greatest game plan in the world, but unless you have a young man executing it like he did tonight, it’s all for naught,” Brown said. “I tip my cap to Jeff.”

La Crosse first baseman Justin Anderson led off the bottom of the second with a double to left-centerfield, and advanced to third on a bunt single from Carter Hoffman. With runners at the corners, Ben Morgan connected on a run-scoring single between shortstop and third base to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead.

Cortland recorded four consecutive hits to begin the fourth inning to take a 2-1 advantage. Ricci led off with a single and scored from first on a RBI double from Steven Figueroa.

Figueroa finished 3-for-5 with two runs scored, an RBI and an 11-pitch at-bat in the second that resulted in a single. 

“In the first game I got too pull happy,” Figueroa said. “In the second game, I just wanted to use the whole field kind of approach and let the guys behind me hit me in.”

Austin Clock singled in the next at bat to score Figueroa from second.

La Crosse tied the game in the bottom of the inning with a run-scoring single from Alex Brown to score Morgan, who singled and stole second.

Conrad Ziemendorf reached on a bunt single in the fifth and advanced to second on a walk. A double steal put runners at second and third before Clock dropped in a single to left to score two runs and put Cortland ahead 4-2.
In the sixth, Ziemendorf reached on an infield single to score Justin Teague, and Ricci singled down the line to plate another run to extend the Red Dragons’ lead to four.

With runners at the corners, Ricci got into a rundown after pitcher Brock Rude threw to first base with Figueroa at the plate. During the rundown, Ziemendorf scored from third as the throw home was too late, and Cortland had a 7-2 lead.

In the bottom of the eighth, Justin Anderson launched a solo home run over the center field wall to cut the Cortland lead to four. A pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases with two outs, but Brown lined out softly to shortstop to end the threat.
Cortland capped off the scoring with an insurance run in the ninth on a RBI single from Clock to give the Red Dragons an 8-3 lead.

After finishing last season as the national runner-up, La Crosse has been eliminated from the World Series.

“It’s obviously tough to lose the last game of the season, and obviously the majority of teams do,” La Crosse head coach Chris Schwarz said. “But I’m so proud of everything that this team has accomplished.

“The tradition that [the seniors] have handed down to these younger players is tough to measure. It’s just outstanding what they’ve given to this program.”

Cortland, the defending national champions, will play on Monday at approximately 1:15 p.m. against Trinity.