CORTLAND, N.Y. – The nationally 25th-ranked Cortland baseball team secured a SUNYAC playoff spot with a doubleheader sweep of visiting New Paltz. The Red Dragons (22-9-1, 12-0 SUNYAC) won the seven-inning first game, 14-5, after jumping out to an 8-0 lead after two innings, and won the nine-inning nightcap, 12-2, by breaking open a tight game with a nine-run fourth inning.
Cortland is currently in first place in the SUNYAC with its 12-0 league mark, followed by Oswego (11-1), Fredonia (7-5), Brockport (6-9) and Oneonta (4-11) in the seven-team conference. The top four teams qualify for the conference playoffs, and the Red Dragons are guaranteed no worse than third place with six league games remaining. Cortland will host Hamilton College in a non-league game Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. and will host Oswego in a three-game series Friday and Saturday.
Cortland 14, New Paltz 5
Scott Giordano (Croton-on-Hudson/Croton-Harmon) went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a walk, two steals and four RBI and James Varian (Hopewell Junction/Trinity-Pawling) was 2-for-3 with a homer, three RBI and two runs scored to lead Cortland in the opener.
Antonio Pragana (Hopewell Junction/John Jay), Joe Tardif (Cutchogue/Mattituck) and Andrew Michalski (Buffalo/St. Francis) each finished 2-for-4, with Pragana driving in two runs and Michalski scoring twice. Wyatt Myers (Chittenango) recorded a hit and two walks and scored twice in four plate appearances.
Chris Puzakulics (Vestal) entered in relief of starter Ryan Flansburg (Queensbury) in the top of the third with the bases loaded and no outs and Cortland up 8-1. Although he allowed two RBI singles, with another run scoring on a passed ball, Puzakulics settled down and gave up just one run on two hits over the next three innings and was awarded the victory. He struck out five batters and walked one. Shane Mugnolo (Howard Beach/Xaverian) pitched a scoreless seventh.
Cortland went up 3-0 in the first with the benefit of just one hit – a Varian RBI single. The other two runs scored as a result of two New Paltz errors on a ball hit by Pragana. The Red Dragons tallied five runs in the second on RBI doubles from Giordano and Dan Schweitzer (Poughquag/Arlington), a Varian hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded, and a Pragana two-run single.
New Paltz's four-run third featured RBI singles by Julian Francisco, Danny Campbell and Matt Warshaw. The Hawks' final run came in the fifth on a Dean Stalzer solo homer. Francisco finished 2-for-3 with a walk and RBI and Warshaw was 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Varian led off the bottom of the fourth with a homer. Later in the inning Giordano singled home a run, and Giordano and Mike O'Connor (Buffalo/North Tonawanda) executed a first-and-third double steal to put Cortland ahead 11-4. The Red Dragons tacked on three runs in the sixth on Giordano's two-run double and a Matthew Funk (Pine Plains) pinch-hit RBI single.
Cortland 12, New Paltz 2
Cortland was clinging to a 3-2 lead before sending 14 batters to the plate in a nine-run bottom of the fourth. The outburst started with RBI singles by Danny Coleman (Saratoga Springs) and Giordano and a Colin BeVard (Syracuse/West Genesee) two-run single lined through a drawn-in infield. Varian singled in a run to make it 8-2, and two batters later Tardif drew a bases-loaded walk. O'Connor singled in two runs to extend the lead to 11-2, and Coleman's wind-blown double plated the ninth and final run of the inning.
New Paltz led 1-0 in the first on a Campbell RBI single. Cortland put up three runs in the second on RBI singles from Pragana and Tardif and a Giordano sac fly. The Hawks answered in the top of the fourth on a Michael Boccarossa two-out RBI single down the right field line.
Mitchell Cavanagh (Oneida) started for the Red Dragons and allowed four hits, one walk and two runs over four innings with four strikeouts and earned the victory. The Cortland coaching staff determined after the top of the fourth inning, with the score 3-2, that Cavanagh was going to be removed at that point due to his pitch count of approximately 80 pitches. Isiah Hudson (Hyde Park/FDR) allowed just one hit and one walk and struck out four over three scoreless innings of relief. Dan Hobbs (Saratoga Springs) and Jake Casey (Homer) wrapped the game with one scoreless inning apiece.
Myers led the offense with a 3-for-3 performance, including two runs scored, and Tardif and Coleman each went 2-for-2 with a walk and two RBI. Varian ended the game 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs.