SYRACUSE — David Murphy and George Haaland provided the offense, while starting pitcher Shae Edmonds tossed seven solid innings, as the Cortland Crush moved one game closer to clinching their first New York Collegiate Baseball League Eastern Division crown Tuesday.
Murphy and Haaland each went 2-for-4 while Edmonds improved to 4-2 on the season after surrendering just one run on five hits to go along with a lone walk and seven strikeouts during Cortland’s 8-1 win over the third-place Syracuse Salt Cats (20-21) at Onondaga Community College.
The Crush improve to a season-tying best 27 wins with 13 losses to increase its lead over the second place Syracuse Junior Chiefs (27-15) to three games. The Crush’s magic number to clinch the division title is now two wins to tie and three to win it outright.
The Salt Cats took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. Brandon Cornelius (2-for-4) led off the inning with a double and scored on a one-out single by Joshua Rodriguez. Adam Thoryk singled to put runners at the corners, but Edmonds retired the next two batters to end the threat.
Edmonds would allow just one more hit over his next five innings of work — a second double to Cornelius — before Matt Dietrich came on to pitch the final two innings for the Crush. Dietrich allowed one hit and struck out two batters.
Cortland took the lead with three runs in the top of the third inning. It began with Greg Mula putting the ball in play and getting to third base on a fielding error. He would score on a passed ball before Haaland smacked his first double off Syracuse starter Thomas Muratore. Haaland went to third as Joey Assenza grounded out, but could not score on an infield single by Brody Santilli.
A sacrifice bunt by Paul Ludden scored Haaland. Santilli scored on a single by David Murphy for the 3-1 advantage.
The Crush added four more runs in the top of the fifth inning. One out singles by Ludden and Murphy, plus a walk to Derek Martin, loaded the bases. Luke Gilbert hit into a fielder’s choice as Ludden scored. T.J. Wegmann walked to reload the bases and Mula drew a walk to force home Murphy.
That was the last batter Muratore faced as Kyle Boarman came to the mound. Haaland greeted him with a two-run double and the inning ended as Mula was thrown out at the plate for the third out, but Cortland now had a 7-1 cushion.
Mula scored on a passed ball in the top of the eighth inning for the final Crush run.
With the division title in sight, Cortland is playing the Sherrill Silversmiths now at Noyes Park before returning home Thursday for a 3 p.m. doubleheader with the Silversmiths at Greg’s Field. Both games will be nine innings and it could be the day Cortland clinched its first division crown.
The Crush wrap up the home part of the season Friday with a 3 p.m. doubleheader against the Salt Cats at Greg’s Field. Both games will be seven innings in length. The regular season finale is Saturday with a road trip to Rochester for a 7 p.m. contest.