CORTLAND, N.Y. - Tournament MVP Jeff Cooke (Rome/Rome Free Academy) allowed one run on five hits over eight and a third innings as Cortland defeated Oswego, 3-1, to win the program's sixth straight SUNYAC baseball title and 34th overall.
Cortland (37-5), ranked first nationally in Division III, earned an automatic berth into the NCAA playoffs and will make their 24th consecutive NCAA appearance - the longest active streak nationally in Div. III. NCAA pairings will be announced next Monday, May 16, and for the second straight year Cortland will serve as the host school at a regional held May 18-22 at Falcon Park in Auburn, N.Y.
Cooke shut out the nationally seventh-ranked Lakers (32-9) for the first seven innings before surrendering a run in the eighth. He finished with five strikeouts and three walks. Turner Parry (Syracuse/West Genesee) entered in the ninth with one out and a runner on first. He walked the first batter he faced, but registered a strikeout and a lineout for his fifth save of the season.
Oswego finished second in the SUNYAC for the third time in the last four years. The Lakers fought back from a loss in their tournament opener to win twice Saturday, and they needed to win twice Sunday versus Cortland to claim the title.
Cooke was joined on the SUNYAC all-tournament team by teammates Parry, Fabio Ricci (Hawthorne/Westlake), Paul Dondero (East Islip), Tanner Whiteman (Cazenovia) and Seth Lamando (Hopewell Junction/Roy C. Ketcham), Oswego's Zach Kollar, Wes Randall and Eric Hamilton, and Brockport's Chris Davis and Wesley Burghardt.
Cortland won despite being out-hit in the game, 5-4, although the Red Dragons did draw six walks to Oswego's four. Cortland took a 1-0 lead in the second when Ricci walked, was bunted to second by Austin Clock (Niskayuna), and scored on a Steven Figueroa (Bronx/St. Raymond's) single to right center.
In the bottom of the third, Nick Hart (Fredonia) drew a one-out walk and Dondero hit a two-run homer to left to put the Red Dragons ahead 3-0.
Oswego had runners reach third base in each of the first two innings but failed to score. Cooke picked off a runner at first with runners on first and third to end the first inning, and he struck out a batter with a runner on third to end the second. The Lakers also had a scoring chance go by the boards in the seventh when they wasted a one-out Jordan Giller double.
Oswego broke through for a run in the eighth. Robert Donnelly drew a one-out walk and went to third on a Randall double. Brian Hamilton's groundout to short drove in a run and moved Randall to third, but a groundout to second ended the threat.
Dondero finished 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBI and Figueroa was 1-for-3 with a walk and RBI for the Red Dragons. Giller finished 2-for-2 with two walks in four plate appearances for Oswego.
Nathan Boughton started for Oswego and allowed three runs on only three hits and five and two thirds innings. He struck out two and walked six. John-Michael Guarino did not allow any runs and gave up just one hit over the last two and a third innings