It wasn’t the hardest hit ball of the night for Ethan Moore, but it was a well-placed shot.
Moore singled into short right field with two outs in the bottom of the 13th inning to score Brody Santilli from second base as the Cortland Crush opened the second half of the New York Collegiate Baseball League Eastern Division season with a 5-4 walk-off victory over the Syracuse Salt Cats Wednesday at Greg’s Field.
Moore’s second hit of the game ended the four plus-hour contest and kept the first place Crush (18-6) three games in front of the Syracuse Junior Chiefs (16-10), who were 8-3 winners over Sherrill last night.
Cortland travels to Onondaga Community College in Syracuse for a 7 p.m. game this evening against the Junior Chiefs. The Salt Cats fall to 12-9, four and one-half games back in third place in the division — and spoiled a very solid outing by starting pitcher Sean Pisik.
Pisik surrendered a first inning run to Cortland for the only other Crush lead of the evening until the end. The Le Moyne College senior allowed just one hit, walked four and struck out 10 in six and two-thirds innings. His second walk of the game did yield the second Cortland run in the bottom of the seventh inning that tied the game at 2-2.
Nate Verst pitched one of his best games of the season for the Crush as he went seven innings. Verst scattered eight hits and gave up two runs, only one of which was earned, as this pitching battle eventually came down to the bullpens.
Syracuse used four pitchers over the final six innings with Kyle Naugle, a sophomore at OCC, giving up the winning hit to Moore in the 13th.
Cortland used just two extra pitchers as William Ginsberg tossed five innings in relief of Verst. Ginsberg drew post-game praise from many teammates, including Shae Edmonds who picked up the win after tossing a 1-2-3 top of the 13th inning for the Crush.
Ginsberg allowed four hits, walked one and allowed two earned runs with five strikeouts. He pitched out of trouble a couple of times, too.
Edmonds put his name in the Crush record book with a strikeout to start the 13th inning. It was his 50th strikeout, tying him with Cortland High grad and current West Liberty University pitcher Yale Brian Hughes for first place on the Crush’s all-time strikeout list.
After the Salt Cats took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning, it was catch-up time the rest of the night until Moore’s game-winning hit.
Cortland tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh on a two-out single by Santilli that plated Patrick Messinger.
Both teams scored a run in the eighth inning. James Thomas reached base after being hit by a Ginsberg pitch moved to third on a single by former Crush player Hank Pelliciotti, who recorded three hits on the night against the team he played for in 2015. A wild pitch allowed Thomas to score from third.
With one swing of the bat, George Haaland tied the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the eighth. After striking out in three previous appearances at the plate and facing a fourth with two strikes on him, Haaland launched a towering shot over the left field scoreboard for his fourth homer this season.
Cortland loaded the bases in the bottom of the 10th inning with one out, but failed to score.
The momentum swung to Syracuse as Pelliciotti led off with a single to start the 11th inning. He stole second and advance to third as the throw trickled away from the Crush defender. Shannon Baker singled Pelliciotti home for a 4-3 advantage.
Messinger led off the bottom of the 11th with a single for the Crush and a throwing error allowed him to advance to second base. Santilli reached on another error as Messinger moved to third base. With one out, Derek Martin hit a long fly ball to centerfield and his second sacrifice fly allowed Messinger to score and tie the game at 4-4.
Cortland had a chance to win the game in the 12th as back-to-back singles by Andrew Taft and Greg Mula gave the Crush two runners with one out, but the Salt turned a double play to kill the threat.
After Edmonds’ perfect inning, Santilli drew a lead-off walk in the 13th. Anthony Searles used a sacrifice but to move Santilli to second base. Martin hit a fly ball to left field, but not deep enough for Santilli to move up to third base for the second out. After being intentionally walked in the 11th after his eight-inning homer, Haaland was hit in the back by a pitch and went to first base. Moore delivered his winning hit off Kyle Naugle and the Crush began to celebrate another win.
After tonight’s game at OCC, Cortland will travel to Rome for a doubleheader against the Generals at DeLutis Field. The 3 p.m. game in a make-up from June 12 with the 7 p.m. contest the regularly scheduled game. Both games will be nine inning contests.