CORTLAND, N.Y. - Cortland scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth as the Red Dragons defeated Oswego, 3-2, to clinch the SUNYAC regular-season title.
The nationally 24th-ranked Red Dragons (26-9-1, 15-0 SUNYAC) have earned the right to host the four-team conference postseason tournament May 3-5. Cortland's streak of hosting the SUNYAC tournament technically continues, although Oswego earned the right in 2017 but the tournament was canceled due to inclement weather. Every SUNYAC tournament since 1997 has been hosted in Cortland. That includes each one since 1998, the first year that the conference switched from a divisional format to a full-league format in which the top seed is granted tournament-hosting rights.
Scott Giordano (Croton-on-Hudson/Croton-Harmon) started the winning rally with a leadoff double to deep right center. Dan Schweitzer's (Poughquag/Arlington) ensuing bunt was popped up down the first base line. Oswego pitcher Matt Bowman nearly made a diving catch, but the ball bounced away and Schweitzer was safe with a single to put runners on first and third. The Lakers intentionally walked Wyatt Myers (Chittenango) to load the bases before Giordano scored on a wild pitch to end the game.
Cortland led 1-0 in the first on a Colin BeVard (Syracuse/West Genesee) walk, a Giordano single that moved BeVard to third and a Schweitzer sac fly. Giordano has now reached safely in 28 straight games and BeVard has reached in 20 consecutive games.
Oswego (22-11, 11-4 SUNYAC) tied the game with a two-out rally in the top of the fourth. Paul Tammaro beat out a bunt and went to second on a Casey Gruarin single. Nick Chilson followed with an RBI single to right. The Lakers went up 2-1 in the fifth on a Ryan Enos hit by pitch, back-to-back singles by Mike Dellicarri and Lukas Olsson, and a Brandon Nicholson sac fly.
Myers led off the bottom of the sixth with a single and was bunted to second by James Varian (Hopewell Junction/Trinity-Pawling). An infield single by Marcos Perivolaris (Mattituck) put runners on first and third and Joe Tardif (Cutchogue/Mattituck) walked to load the bases. With two outs, pinch hitter Sam Kippen (Lyncourt/Solvay) walked to force home the tying run.
The guests had a chance to re-gain the lead in the seventh. Dellicarri singled with one out and moved to second on an errant pickoff throw. Olsson singled and Nicholson was intentionally walked to load the bases. Tammaro flied out to right, and a tagging Dellicarri was thrown out by Tardif in a close play at the plate to end the inning and keep the game tied at 2-2.
Dan Hobbs (Saratoga Springs) earned the win in relief. He entered with a runner on first and two outs in the eighth and picked off a runner to end the inning. He also retired the Lakers in order in the top of the ninth. Ryan Flansburg (Queensbury) started for Cortland and gave up two runs on seven hits in four and a third innings. He struck out two and walked none. Chris Puzakulics (Vestal) and Nick Morena (Holbrook/Sachem North) each tossed an inning and two thirds of scoreless ball.
Brian Nolan went the first five and two thirds on the mound for Oswego and gave up two runs on five hits with five walks and five strikeouts. Bowman allowed a run on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts the rest of the way.
Tardif and Schweitzer each went 2-for-3 and Giordano was 2-for-4 to lead Cortland's offense. Chilson was 3-for-3 with a walk, Olsson finished 3-for-4 and Dellicarri was 2-for-5 for Oswego, which finished with a slight 11-10 hit advantage.
Cortland will host Ithaca in a non-league game next Wednesday at 4 p.m.