CORTLANDVILLE — Kooper Knabe retired the last 11 batters of the game and drove in the walk-off game-winning RBI with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth to give the Cortland Purple Tigers an 8-7 extra innings victory over the Jamesville-DeWitt Red Rams Monday night at the Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex.
Knabe left his mark on the game from beginning to end, starting behind the plate and finishing on the mound with 4 1/3 innings of two-hit, one run ball with seven strikeouts. At the plate, he went 2-for-5 with three RBIs, with the game-winning RBI coming after an intentional walk to eighth-grade shortstop Caden Albright (2-for-4, three RBI) to load the bases with one out.
With the infield in, Knabe smashed a grounder to the second baseman, who flipped to the shortstop for the second out, but the return throw to first was wide of the bag, allowing Tyler Blake to score the winning run and the rest of the Purple Tigers an opportunity to mob Knabe in right field.
“We said to each hitter, ‘The pressure is on them,’” Purple Tigers coach Ben Albright said. “And it showed. You put the ball in play, good things happen.”
“I didn’t even look at the play,” Knabe said. “I just put my head down and ran.”
The game started out in familiar territory for the Purple Tigers — trailing. The Purple Tigers have conceded the first run in four of their five games, and Monday’s game saw their biggest deficit of them all, as they fell behind 5-0 after two and a half innings.
The Red Rams scored five runs in the top of the third on just three hits, but were also aided by two walks, a hit batsman and an error. Purple Tigers starter Jason Carr was pulled after 2 1/3 innings, allowing just three hits but issuing four walks, a hit batter and a wild pitch.
Caden Congdon held the Red Rams off the scoreboard for the next 2 2/3 innings, which allowed the Purple Tigers to make their comeback. They scored four runs in the bottom of the third, starting with Carr (1-for-3, two walks, two runs) driving in Max Gambitta (2-for-5) with a triple and scoring himself on a sacrifice fly by Blake.
With the bases empty and two outs, Red Rams starter Corey Kretsch had the chance to get out of the inning without any further damage. But a single by Congdon (3-for-5, two runs) and a plunking of Adam Minnard gave eighth-grader Caden Albright the opportunity to smack a two-run triple to right center, cutting the deficit to 5-4.
After both teams went quietly in the fourth, the Purple Tigers took their first lead with three runs in the bottom of the fifth. Carr led off the inning with a walk, then Congdon singled him to second. After a pop-up to the first baseman, the Purple Tigers capitalized with two outs once again, with Albright singling home Carr and Knabe singling home Congdon and Albright to make it 7-5 Purple Tigers.
“It’s a long game,” Albright said. “We’re junior-heavy, and we’ve got some seniors. We’ve got leadership, we’ve got guys who know they can step up. Even if we’re down a few runs, we’ve got a long game and we can come back, and we showed that tonight.”
The Red Rams would not trail for much longer, as a leadoff single in the top of the sixth by Matt Sweeney (2-for-5, two runs) chased Congdon off the mound in favor of Knabe. Two more singles by Matt Alexander (1-for-3, two runs) and Carter King (2-for-3, three RBI) plated Sweeney, then a 1-6-4-3 double play off the bat off Kevin Markert scored Alexander to tie the game at 7.
That was the last breath the Red Rams offense would get, as Knabe retired the last 11 batters he faced to get the win.
“I just had to throw strikes,” Knabe said. “I let up the two runs, and I got back in the dugout, gathered myself and went back out.”
“Kooper got a lot of innings for us on the mound last summer, and we like him behind the plate,” Albright said. “We felt comfortable that Kooper’s going to throw strikes, so we put him in that situation, and we knew he could thrive, and he did. He stepped up.”
The Purple Tigers had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the eighth, as Andrew Partigianoni (2-for-4, two stolen bases) led off the inning with a single and steal of second, but he could not advance any further as Corey Kretsch retired the next three batters.
“Before we went out, when Parge was coming up, we kind of had it scripted up the way it played out,” Albright said. “Our bats at the top couldn’t get it done that time, but I’ll take that every time.”
This game marks the start of a challenging week for the Purple Tigers. They will face off with the Red Rams again today at 5:15 p.m. at J-D, and Albright knows the Red Rams will be out for revenge.
“This is a big week,” he said. “I keep telling these guys, ‘We’re going to see what we’re made of.’ Our goal was to get at least three wins this week. We’ve gotten one… I know (J-D will be) feisty and ready to go, and we have ES-M later in the week.
Dryden 19, Whitney Point 1
The Lions scored multiple runs in every inning, including a nine-run fourth, as part of a five-inning mercy rule-shortened road win.
Mitch Shipman went 3-for-5 with two doubles and five RBI, Bradley Perry went 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBI and Ryan Wiser went 3-for-4 with two runs.
Johnny Pascarella got the win for the Lions with four innings of one-hit ball while striking out nine.
Jamesville-DeWitt 16, Cortland 1
Margaret Starr had the lone goal for the Purple Tigers as the Red Rams led by 10-plus starting late in the first half.
The Purple Tigers had the advantage in draw controls, 11-7.
Cincinnatus 263, McGraw 284
Collin Irvin’s 36 was enough to push the Lions past the Eagles and Caleb Knickerbocker’s 38.
Marathon beaten at dual meet
The Olympians (281) finished in third in a dual meet with Vestal (253) and Lansing (268).
Kate Anderson was the top performer for Marathon with a 57. Vestal’s Allison Yoon had the top overall score with a 56.
TRACK AND FIELD
Groton sweeps Marathon, Whitney Point
The Groton boys defeated Marathon, 77-22, and Whitney Point, 71-29, while the Groton girls defeated Marathon, 55-45, and Whitney Point, 68-30.
The Whitney Point boys defeated Marathon, 53-23, while the Marathon girls defeated Whitney Point, 55-29.
Groton winners included Emma Kennett (13.97 in the 100 meter dash, 28.81 in the 200 meter dash and 14’ 5” in the long jump), Jackson Slade (5:19.12 in the 1600 meters), Dylan Sedorus (2:23 in the 800 meters), Tom Pinkowski (16’ 7 1/4” in the long jump) and Maddie Perkins (19’ 6” in the shot put and 56’ 9” in the discus).
Marathon winners included Jacob Pixley (12.72 in the 100 meter dash, Gabriel Teeter (57.73 in the 400 meter dash), Connor Holland (26.46 in the 200 meter dash and 5’ 4” in the high jump) and Christian Baez (57’ 2” in the discus).