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AUBURN, N.Y. – The Amherst College baseball team saw its impressive run at the NCAA New York Regional come to an end Saturday as nationally third-ranked SUNY Cortland defeated the Lord Jeffs, 3-1. Amherst ends its year at 27-13, setting a new program record for wins after claiming its first NESCAC title since 2005 and upsetting a pair of ranked opponents earlier in the regional tournament.
After the Jeffs pounded 11 hits to stun Cortland, 6-3, on Thursday night, the Red Dragons (38-10) used a strong start from first-year right hander Brandon Serio to carry them in the rematch. Cortland advances to meet No. 7 Ithaca in the regional championship, needing a pair of wins to capture the title while the Bombers can punch their ticket to the Division III World Series with a single triumph after defeating Amherst 3-2 on Friday. The upstate powerhouses meet Saturday at 5 p.m. and again Sunday at 1 p.m. if necessary.
Dylan Driscoll '14 gave Amherst a quality start in the season finale, tossing seven innings and surrendering two runs (one earned) on eight hits while walking none. The righty was saddled with his first loss of the year, however, dropping to 8-1 as Serio was even stronger for Cortland, tossing 7.1 frames and allowing just four hits and an unearned run with three strikeouts and no walks. Cody Petre earned a five-out save, leaving the tying run on first base for Amherst in the ninth.
Nic Meyer '16 was the only Jeff with multiple hits, going 2-for-3 with a run scored while Nolan Stewart '13 was 1-for-2 with an RBI. Max Rosing led the way for Cortland, going 3-for-4 with a run while Zack Graczyk and Tim Panetta were each 2-for-3.
After Cortland grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning, Amherst scratched its lone run across in the fifth before the Red Dragons tacked on an insurance tally in the eighth off of Jeff reliever Keenan Szulik '16. Charles Nutter '15 came on to record the final two outs of the inning in order, but the Jeffs' last rally attempt came up short in the ninth, with Petre retiring Mike Odenwaelder '16 on a grounder to second to end it.
Graczyk keyed the Red Dragons' decisive first inning against Driscoll, ripping a one-out double to center that was just beyond the reach of a sliding Alex Hero '14. After Chris Jackson flew out, P.J. Rinaldi delivered a clutch two-out RBI single to open the game's scoring. Rosing then singled, moving Rinaldi to second, before Cortland picked up an unearned run when Anthony Iacomini drove a fly ball into right center and a miscommunication between Hero and Odenwaelder led to the ball dropping for a two-base error.
Driscoll was able to escape further trouble in the first before settling in nicely over the remainder of his outing, but Amherst could muster little offense against Serio, who faced the minimum over the opening three frames. Jonathan Ramirez '16 led off the fourth with a hard single to center and Taiki Kasuga '14 bunted him to second, but the Jeffs couldn't capitalize with Serio retiring Hero on a flyout and Bob Cook '13 on a comebacker to escape the inning.
The Jeffs got on the board in the fifth thanks to a pair of two-out Cortland errors. Meyer reached on a throwaway by second baseman Bryan Mistretta before racing all the way to third when Panetta's pickoff attempt from behind the plate squirted down the right field line and out of play. Stewart then ripped a hard grounder to deep short, scoring Meyer after John Adornetto dove to knock down the rocket but could not make a throw. Serio then got Andrew Vandini '16 on a groundout to end the frame.
The starters traded zeros in the sixth and seventh before Meyer beat out an infield single to start the eighth. After Stewart laid down a successful sacrifice, Cortland went to the bullpen, with the lefty Petre coming on to strike out the left-handed Vandini. Meyer advanced to third on a wild pitch during the next at-bat, but Ramirez couldn't bring him home, grounding to second to end the threat.
With Szulik replacing Driscoll, Cortland added its insurance run in the bottom half as Rosing and Iacomini drove one-out singles, Brian Barry walked, and Panetta delivered a sacrifice fly to right after Nutter replaced the Jeff rookie.
Mistretta flew out to end the inning, but Amherst could not rally in the ninth. Kasuga ripped a leadoff single up the middle but Hero grounded to first for a fielder's choice as Rosing cut down Kasuga at second. Petre then got Cook to pop up to short before Conner Gunn '16 breathed hope into Amherst with a hard single to right. With two down and the tying run on first, Odenwaelder fell behind 0-2 before Petre induced the game-ending groundout.
With wins over No. 22 Rowan on Wednesday and Cortland on Thursday, Amherst's 2013 NCAA run marks the second-longest in program history after the 1999 squad fell in the finals of the New England Regional. Seniors Cook, Stewart, Adam Medoff and Danny Pillitteri depart as the winningest class ever to wear Purple and White, having amassed a 96-44 record (.686) over four outstanding years.
2013 Ncaa baseball championship -- new york regional
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