First, the Cortland High baseball team mounted a huge rally in the bottom of the seventh to send Friday’s game with East Syracuse-Minoa at Greg’s Field into extra innings. That made what happened in the 11th inning look relatively easy.
The Purple Tigers scored five runs in the seventh to tie the game at 8-8 and, after the Spartans pushed across a run in the top of the 11th, scored twice in the bottom of that frame for a 10-9 win to improve to 3-0 in the OHSL Freedom National Division and overall.
Duff Steve ended the game by blasting what turned out to be a double to deep center to score James Lane with the winning run. Lane had walked after Jake Prunier, the eventual winning pitcher in his varsity mound debut, reached on an infield single to open the bottom of the 11th. Alex Babcock then singled to left to score Prunier and tie the game at 9-9, with Lane going to second.
“This team has the attitude of being in every game and never backing down,” CHS coach Ben Albright said. “Literally everyone has played a part in these first three wins. We came back against Homer (after trailing 4-0 Wednesday, winning 6-4) and now this. It’s been fun, and this kind of thing builds team character. To start the bottom of the seventh, I gave three kids a chance as pinch-hitters to get in the game and show what they had … and all three got on base. After the inning was over I told Jake he was pitching. He kept coming in at the end of innings saying he could throw one more inning. He was clutch.”
Caleb Thompson led off the CHS seventh with a single to left before Austen Gardner walked and Alex Morgan singled to left to load the bases, with Cameron Woodard coming on as a pinch-runner for Morgan. A wild pitch scored Thompson and put men on second and third before Prunier walked to reload the bases. Lane then hit a two-run single to make it 8-6, and a passed ball put runners on second and third.
Babcock grounded out to first to score Prunier and send Lane to third, and after Steve walked Noah Barber singled to right to bring Lane home with the tying run and put men on first and second. A popout and a flyout ended the inning, and Prunier took the mound in a varsity game for the first time in the top of the eighth and went the rest of the way.
ES-M scored twice in the top of the first. Cortland tied it with runs in the bottom of that inning, as Prunier walked and later came home on an error, and the second as Adam Passalugo walked and scored on a single by Prunier. After the Spartans retook the lead with a run in the top of the third, CHS tied it again in the bottom of the inning as Babcock walked and later scored on an error.
The visitors then looked to have taken control when they scored four runs in the fourth and one in the sixth to go up 8-3 and set the stage for the wild finish.
Prunier allowed just one hit and one run in his four innings of work, with two strikeouts and no walks. He also went 2-for-4 at the plate with an RBI and three runs scored while Barber went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Lane had two RBIs and scored twice and Babcock drove in a pair of runs.
ES-M’s Sam Jenkins was the game’s top hitter, going 5-for-6 with three doubles, three RBIs and a run. Jeff Loder (two runs), Jack Silmser (two RBIs) and Jimmy Griffin (run) all went 2-for-5 for the visitors.
The two teams didn’t have much time to reflect on the game, as they were slated to meet today at ES-M with the first pitch set for 10 a.m. The two games were make-ups of contests that were rained out last week.