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HORNELL – The Cortland Crush are your 2021 NYCBL Champions. Taking game two of the series in a 5-3 victory, the Crush swept the Hornell Dodgers to earn their first title in franchise history on Saturday afternoon. A pitchers duel for the majority of the contest, Cortland scored four runs on five hits to rally in the top of the ninth with Zach Marriott hitting the go-ahead two RBI double.
“You go through East Division Champions two seasons in a row, but this is a whole new level and it’s surreal,” head coach Bill McConell said. “We didn’t do well at the plate in the beginning but then we got some clutch hits. Zach Marriott has had clutch hitting all second half of the season and just nailed it.”
Jake Lombardi started on the mound and went three innings for Cortland. Despite giving up two runs, Lombardi only allowed three hits and picked five strikeouts before being relieved. Hornell starting pitcher Charlie White was solid through eight innings of work. White only allowed one run and one walk, picking up eight strikeouts as the Crush struggled on offense until he was relieved.
After a scoreless first inning, the Dodgers struck first in game two scoring a run in the bottom of the second. Matteo Avellone hit a sacrifice fly to score Jordyn Smith who singled. Then in the third, Hornell added to their lead as Jack McDonald scored from third on a wild pitch to make the score 2-0.
The Crush finally answered in the top of the fourth, scoring one run. Buzz Shirley (2-for-4) got on base to lead off the inning, legging out an infield single. Shirley then scored on a sacrifice fly from Griffin Snyder to cut the Dodgers lead to just one.
Justin DelVecchio entered the game in the bottom of the fourth and shut out Hornell in his three innings of work on the bump. DelVecchio picked up one strikeout while allowing no walks and just one hit before being relieved.
“My curveball was working really well, it’s probably my best pitch,” said DelVecchio. “I was living outside and I noticed guys weren’t really going after the first pitch. So being able to get ahead of batters early led to success.”
White continued to get outs for Hornell and both teams struggled to find their rhythm at the plate, going scoreless over the next three innings. With Cregg Scherrer coming in to pitch for Cortland in the seventh, Hornell added to their lead in the bottom of the eighth as Smith doubled for his second hit of the day and later scored on a wild pitch.
Now trailing by two at the start of the ninth, the Crush had to get something going on offense to have any hopes of winning the game. Exploding for four runs in their last at bats, Cortland was finally able to find their rhythm at the plate and rally against Hornell reliever Dom Grady with four consecutive hits to start off the inning.
Alexis Castillo (2-for-4) and Snyder got things going with back-to-back singles before Tommy Thamman and Jason Boule entered to pinch run for Castillo and Snyder respectively. Nick Pastore (2-for-4) then hit an RBI single to score Thamman for the Crush’s first run since the fourth. With no outs still, Marriott pinch hit and came up huge for Cortland with the go ahead double. Matthew Ward then singled, scoring Marriott for Cortland’s final run of the night.
“The rest of the guys did their job getting on base in front of me and I was thinking I just needed to hit a ground ball to tie the game up then pass the torch to the next guy,” said Marriott. “I ended up doing better though and I was very happy with the result.”
With the Crush now out in front, the Dodgers were unable to rally in the bottom half of the frame as Gerret Bell took the mound to close out the game for Cortland. Scherrer picked up the win as Bell went 1-2-3 in the final inning, ending the game on a strikeout and earning the save.
“It feels great, it’s surreal, but it’s also tough for the losing team,” McConnell added. “After a long season, they battled from the beginning and showed there were two great teams tonight.”
Following the sweep, the Crush were crowned champions and the celebrations began. Pastore was named Most Valuable Player of the series with four hits, three RBI’s, and five stolen bases. Dominic Perachi was named Most Valuable Pitcher for his 10 strikeout performance in the game one win. After seven years in the league, the Crush have finally won their first title and will look to repeat next summer. Congratulations to all of the players, coaches, staff, and fans; Go Crush!