AUBURNDALE, FLA. – Mark DeMilio's bases-loaded RBI singled capped a bases-empty, two-run rally with two outs in the bottom of the seventh as nationally third-ranked Cortland defeated Endicott College, 2-1, in the opening game of a non-league doubleheader. The Red Dragons (9-0) completed the sweep by holding off a late rally by the Gulls for an 8-7 victory. Endicott (0-2) was an NCAA regional finalist in New England each of the last two seasons.
Cortland will face Rutgers-Camden, a participant in the NCAA New York Regional last year along with the Red Dragons, on Monday at 11 a.m. in Auburndale.
Game 1: Cortland 2, Endicott 1
The opening game of the twinbill, which featured a pair of seven-inning contests, featured a pitcher's duel between Endicott's JJ Branch, the 2014 Commonwealth Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year, and Cortland's Brandon McClain (Coram/Longwood), a 2014 ABCA First Team All-American.
The teams were scoreless through six innings, with Endicott stranding runners on second and third with two outs in the top of the fifth and Cortland leaving runners on first and third with two outs in the third.
In the top of the seventh, Nicholas De Lotto led off with a single and Corbin Hyde reached on a bunt single. Josh Drew bunted the runners to second and third and Cody Hall hit a sacrifice fly to center to give the Gulls a 1-0 lead.
Branch retired the first two Cortland hitters in the seventh on groundouts before the Red Dragons mounted their winning rally. Anthony Simon (Suffern/Don Bosco Prep (NJ)) singled to left and Matthew Michalski (Buffalo/St. Francis) singled through the right side to put runners on first and third. Adam Smith (Vestal) walked to load the bases and pinch hitter Nick Hart (Fredonia) was hit by a pitch to force in the tying run. Endicott reliever Davarn Nova entered and DeMilio lined an 0-1 pitch to right center for the game-ending RBI single.
McClain scattered eight hits and a walk over his seven innings of work for the win. He struck out three batters. Branch gave up five hits and three walks and fanned two in six and two-thirds innings.
Game 2: Cortland 8, Endicott 7
Cortland trailed 2-1 after two innings before scoring two in the third and three in the fourth to go ahead 6-2. Austin Clock (Niskayuna), DeMilio and Conrad Ziemendorf (Penfield/Webster Schroeder) each hit RBI singles in the third. The Red Dragons extended their lead to 8-3 with two in the top of the sixth on Smith and Simon run-scoring singles.
Endicott, however, rallied for four runs in the sixth and could have possibly had a bigger inning if a big Cortland defensive play and a running miscue by the Gulls. Chase Sullivan led off the inning with a single down the left field line, but Cortland shortstop Simon raced to the ball in the outfield and threw out Sullivan trying to go to second.
That hit was one of seven straight by Endicott to start the inning. Mike Kochiss doubled, De Lotto singled, and Hyde and Hall greeted Cortland reliever Ryan McAlary (Shoreham/Shoreham-Wading River) with back-to-back RBI singles. Hall, however, was called out for passing Hyde at first base for the inning's second out. Pinch hitter Brad Rebello followed with an RBI double, Cam Farnham reached on an infield single, and Farnham and pinch runner Dan Zabbo executed a first-and-third double steal to cut Cortland's lead to 8-7.
McAlary, however, struck out the next hitter to end the inning with the tying run on second, and he allowed only a two-out single in the seventh.
Paul Dondero (Islip Terrace/East Islip) went 2-for-3 as one of five Cortland hitters with multiple hits. Smith, Clock and Simon were each 2-for-4 and DeMilio finished 2-for-5. For Endicott, Hyde went 3-for-3 with two RBI and two runs, while Farnham and Kochiss each went 3-for-4. Hall was 2-for-3 with an RBI and Harry Oringer drove in two runs during a 2-for-4 performance.
Cortland's Alex Weingarten (East Rockaway/Lynbrook) improved to 2-0 after giving up 11 hits and five runs, four earned, in five and a third innings. He struck out two and did not walk a batter. Endicott starter Zac Poland was tagged with the loss after allowing four hits, two walks and three runs in two innings.