The Cortland Crush needed to win twice in Sunday at Niagara in order to claim the NYCBL title.
However, the Niagara Power denied Cortland even a chance for a third game. The Power recorded 15 base hits and got the Cortland’s pitching to win the title in two games with a 12-6 win in game two of the series.
“They can really swing the bat, hats off to them,” left fielder Alex Flock said. “They’re a really talented team.”
“We knew we were going to have a dog fight all day,” shortstop Jack Lynch said. “We knew we had to put up runs. I thought we fought and battled the whole time, an unfortunate outcome but a great season for sure.”
Despite falling in the title game, this was the furthest ant team in Crush history has made it in the postseason. Cortland won its first Eastern Division title, sweeping the Syracuse Salt Cats and made the NYCBL title game for the first time in team history.
“I’m extremely proud,” Flock said. “Being here three years and to give Coach Mac (Bill McConnell) a successful season, in my last season, was really important coming into this year.”
Flock ended as the only player to ever play three seasons with the Crush.
Cortland’s offense showed up to hit in game two, notching 12 base hits for the day. The Crush jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Sean O’Malley hit an RBI-single that scored Garrett Callaghan.
“The guy (Niagara starter Erik Johnson) was attacking us with fastballs early and guys had good approaches against that,” third baseman Steven Bennett said,”
The Power responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame, highlighted by Dylan McNary’s RBI-triple.
The Crush tied the game up at 2-2 in the third. Flock led-off the frame with a triple and then scored on Nick Pastore’s single.
They then wrestled the lead away in the top of the fourth. After Kam Holland reached on an error, Jack Lynch recorded one of his three base hits on the day and scored Holland. Callaghan made it 4-2 with a double that brought Lynch home.
“We saw a lefty and a lot of lefties try to go away on me,” Lynch said. “So, I was really trying to shoot it to left field and I was able to do that.”
After the Power tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the frame and took the lead 5-4 in the fifth, the Crush rallied again. Callaghan belted his second double of the game, bring home Anthony Cieszko to bring the game to 5-5
However, the flood gates opened after that. Niagara scored five runs in the bottom half of the inning, highlighted by Isaiah Corry’s two-run single and McNary’s second triple of the game. That made it 10-5 Power.
“We just kind of feel apart with the pitching,” third baseman Stephen Bennett said. “They Power just kept adding on and adding on and, like coach (Ryan) Stevens said, we just couldn’t stop the bleeding today.”
Niagara added two more runs on in the bottom of the seventh on Adam Purdy’s single.
The Crush scored their sixth run in the top of the ninth when Dylan Nolan tripled and scored on Cieszko’s RBI-single.
Pitching plagued the Crush for the second game in a row. After a solid start by Mike Viveiros, four innings, four runs on six hits, the bullpen fell apart. Combined, the Crush bullpen allowed eight runs on nine hits and walked six batters.
The Crush can still hang their heads high though as the first team from Cortland to ever make the NYCBL finals and win the Eastern Division Pennant.
“It’s special,” Bennett said. “It’s something that us group of guys are going to be able to have for the rest of ours lives.”