CORTLANDVILLE — The Auburn Maroons drew nine walks off Cortland Purple Tigers starter Tyler Blake that led to all of their runs, and Maroons starter Ryan Birchard pitched a two-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts to deal the Purple Tigers their first loss of the season, 4-0, Wednesday at Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex.
Blake struck out nine batters in 3 1/3 innings, but the nine walks and four hits he allowed drove up his pitch count to 95 by the time head coach Ben Albright pulled him in favor of Caden Congdon.
However, the Purple Tigers dugout and fans made it well known that the home plate umpire’s strike zone wasn’t doing Blake any favors. Blake was getting hardly any calls on the outer margins of the strike zone. No matter your metaphor of choice, whether the strike zone looked like a gerrymandered congressional district or was the size of a soup can, Blake could not get calls when he needed them.
That led to a bases-loaded situation in the fourth inning, forcing Blake to come into the heart of the strike zone.
That’s when the Maroons broke the game open.
Already up 1-0 thanks to an RBI single by Birchard, Kevin Dolan singled to left to plate Will Coleman, then Jason Irwin walked to force home Zach Mock.
Congdon took over on the mound and got Birchard to ground into a fielder’s choice, scoring Ryan Stewart. Congdon retired the next 10 Auburn batters in order, but there was nothing the Purple Tigers offense could do to shake Birchard. Two hits — a single by Blake and a triple with two outs in the seventh by Adam Minnard — were all they could muster as the Maroons hung the first loss of 2021 on the Purple Tigers. Cortland gets a chance at revenge on the Maroons at 7 p.m. tonight at Falcon Park in Auburn.
Dryden 13, Newark Valley 9
The offense came early and often for both teams, with Dryden leading 4-3 after one inning, but the Lions extended the lead with five more runs in the second and hung on for their 10th win of the season.
Kahlen Cornell pitched a complete game with 12 strikeouts. Maggie Murphy had four hits, including a double and a triple. Mackenzie Rochford had two singles and a double, and Cassi Senge and Ava Henry each had two hits to pace the Lion offfense.
The Lions wrap up their season at 4:30 p.m. Friday against Spencer-Van Etten before they play in the Section IV tournament.
Cortland 13, Jordan-Elbridge 9
The Purple Tigers won a close game on Senior Night, their last game of the season. Cortland led just 7-5 at halftime before extending the lead in the second half. The Purple Tigers outshot J-E 29-21, won ground balls, 25-17, and controlled draws, 15-7.
Paige Ludwig and Lily Call each had four goals for the Purple Tigers, with Call adding three assists. Gabby Cranfield and Megan Harrington each netted two goals and Margaret Starr had one score.
“Though we had a slow start, I am glad we were able to rely on our habits and finish the season with a win,” Purple Tigers coach Kindra Catalano said. “Draw control and ground-ball possession was a key factor for us winning tonight. Gabby Cranfield and Paige Ludwig were able to get the ball to a place where Harrington and Lily Call were able to wrap it up. I am proud of the number of assists that this team has season. I know that the wins were few but the growth was truly inspiring.”
It was the final game for Harrington, Ludwig, Daina Gutierrez, Isabella Smith, Kylie Davie, Bridget Riley, Kadison McNabb, Hannah Partigianoni, Rachel Kline, Claire Dearie and Delia Blair.
“Daina Gutierrez was very vocal in the cage tonight and took control of the back side of the field several times tonight,” Catalano said. “That confidence and game sense is something we are always proud to see come to life. Lily and Paige had a successful night finding the net tonight. They were forced to move the J-E goalie and find corners for scoring success.”