CORTLANDVILLE — After being stymied for six innings by Central Square starting pitcher Connor LaVigne, and allowing some brutal two-out runs to fall behind, the Cortland Purple Tigers, down to their last three outs, roared back from a 4-1 deficit to stay unbeaten with a 5-4 walk-off victory over Central Square Thursday at Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex.
Kooper Knabe led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a double by Luciano Devito. After Ethan Johnson and Andrew Partigianoni popped out on the infield, the Purple Tigers were down to their final out with Jason Carr at the plate.
Carr ripped a single to easily plate Devito, then Nick Yonta pinch ran for him. Tyler Blake walked, then Caden Congdon singled home Yonta to tie the game. Adam Minnard took a tough pitch for ball four on a 3-2 count to load the bases for Caden Albright.
On May 10, the Jamesville-DeWitt Red Rams intentionally walked Albright, an eighth-grader, to get to Knabe to try to get out of an extra-innings jam. Knabe came through then, but this time, there was no working around Albright.
On a 2-2 pitch from reliever Trevor Boyce, he hit a sharp grounder between the third baseman and shortstop into left field to score Blake to allow the Purple Tigers to stay unbeaten at 10-0.
“I was going up there looking for something to hit, and I got something to hit,” Caden Albright said. “I worked the count to where I was ahead, and he had to throw me a pitch. Otherwise, he would have been way behind. I wanted to win the game and get out of here.”
The Purple Tigers had another bases loaded opportunity in the second inning, but LaVigne struck out Johnson to end the threat. The next inning, Central Square capitalized on that momentum after Carr retired the first two batters.
Colby Fox hit a single, then LaVigne and Derek Schumaker were hit by consecutive pitches. With the bases loaded, Will Hite hit an 0-1 pitch for a single that scored Fox and LaVigne to give Central Square a 2-0 lead.
The Purple Tigers answered with an RBI triple by Congdon in the bottom of the third, but Central Square had more two-out magic left in them.
In the fourth, with runners at the corners and Fox at the plate, a pickoff attempt at first by Carr sailed wide of Blake, allowing Joseph Lignoci to score on the error.
Both teams’ offenses were silent from that point on until the top of the seventh, when Central Square got an insurance run on an RBI double by Hite.
“These guys, we knew it coming in, if we were flat, they were going to take advantage,” Purple Tigers coach Ben Albright said. “They kept in the game yesterday. They came here and they put up a great fight. We’ve been talking about the big target on our back. They want to come after us… They played really well today. Hats off to them.
“They strung some good at-bats together in clutch situations. When they got that insurance run in the top of the seventh, I thought that was going to hurt us a lot. We were in the bottom of the order and we had some guys step up down there to flip the lineup over again.”
Minnard got the win in relief, pitching three innings with two hits and one run allowed while striking out two.
LaVigne took the loss, going 6 2/3 innings with two walks and four strikeouts. Until that fateful bottom of the seventh, he held the Purple Tiger bats in check, but not without some hard contact. The hardest hit ball of the day by the Purple Tigers was a line drive off the bat of Blake that was snared by Boyce at first base for an unassisted inning-ending double play, squelching a one out, two on rally.
LaVigne also took a little bit of a beating throughout the course of the game, getting hit by two pitches while at bat and taking a line drive by Carr off his leg while pitching.
The Purple Tigers are off until Tuesday when they visit Syracuse City at 5:30 p.m.
McGraw 16, DeRuyter 10
The Eagles captured their first win of the season by scoring eight runs in the third inning and six in the fifth.
Mike Levitskiy had two Doubles, two runs and two RBI, Nate Stiles had a dobule and four RBI, Nolan Knickerbocker had two singles, a run and an RBI and Matt Heath had three hits and two runs.
Stiles also earned the win on the mound while striking out three.
Homer 13, Chittenango 2
An eight-run sixth inning by the Trojans mercied the Bears.
Joey Case pitched a complete game with six hits and one walk while striking out nine. He also had a triple and an RBI.
Richard Lambrecht went 2-for-2 with two doubles, two runs, two walks, two RBI and a stolen base.