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Late Comeback Falls Short as Baseball Drops Elimination Game to SUNY Cortland

Sophomore All-OAC left fielder Dudley Taw hit the game-tying double with two strikes in the top of the ninth (Photo courtesy of Jesse Kucewicz)
Sophomore All-OAC left fielder Dudley Taw hit the game-tying double with two strikes in the top of the ninth (Photo courtesy of Jesse Kucewicz)

AUBURN, N.Y. –  A late-inning comeback fell short as the fourth-seeded Baldwin Wallace University baseball team fell to top-seeded and host State University of New York at Cortland 10-9 in an elimination game at the 2018 NCAA Division III New York Regional at Falcon Park.

Cortland (35-11 overall) advances in the consolation bracket to take on third-seeded University of Southern Maine. That game immediately follows the matchup with the Yellow Jackets (33-14).

A classic pitchers' duel was brewing for 2.5 innings as neither team could record a hit; meanwhile, freshman hurler Nick Smith (Mentor) needed just 14 pitches to get through his first two frames. For the first time in the tournament, however, BW allowed the first run of the game as Cortland (35-11) got out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third. Back-to-back singles with two outs in the fourth put Yellow Jackets on the corners but both runners were stranded. The Red Dragons added two runs each in the fourth, fifth and sixth to go up 7-0.

BW flipped the script after finally getting on the scoreboard in the top of the seventh as sophomore All-OAC left fielder Dudley Taw (Sheffield Lake/Brookside) doubled to left center, making the score 7-1. Cortland got the run back and more in the bottom half of the seventh. Three bases-loaded walks for the Yellow Jackets in the eighth set up freshman shortstop Alex Ludwick (Brunswick/Padua Franciscan) for a bases-clearing double to bring BW within two runs of the lead at 9-7. The Yellow Jackets had the tying runs on base with Taw at the plate. The sophomore put up a fight and was down to his last strike, fouling off six pitches, before he punched a double into right center to tie the game at 9-9.

In extra innings, Cortland walked off in the bottom of the 11th after a lead-off walk came around to score on the game-winning single up the middle by senior Ralph Nuzzi.

Junior designated hitter Philip Wells (Buffalo, N.Y./St. Joseph's Collegiate) led the Yellow Jackets once again with a three-hit day. Taw had the biggest hit of the game, however, as he put up a team-high four runs batted in.

On the mound, Smith threw four innings, giving up three runs on four hits with one walk. Junior left-hander Jack Raines (Akron/Archbishop Hoban) pitched an inning of relief and allowed three runs (two unearned) on three hits and one strikeout. Sophomore lefty Spencer Berg (New Albany) went just 0.1 of an inning with one run on one hit. In his final outing as a Yellow Jacket, senior right-handed pitcher Nick Patrone (Bellaire) threw one inning and gave up two runs on three hits. Sophomore lefty Michael Hubert (Cincinnati/Oak Hills) was the most effective reliever as he pitched 3.2 scoreless innings, including working out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the eighth, but still suffered the loss as it was his runner that scored in the walk off.

BW ends the 2018 season with a 33-14 record and multiple school records, including wins (33), runs scored (392), runs batted in (358), home runs (43), stolen bases (111) and opposing batter strikeouts (349).