How the SUNY Cortland baseball team captured its first national title

The following is a republished press release…to submit your own, email Editor Peter Blanchard at [email protected]


There was nothing unlucky about the number 13 for the SUNY Cortland baseball team.

The nationally top-ranked Red Dragons, making a 13th trip to the NCAA Division III World Series, captured the first national championship in program history with a dramatic ninth-inning comeback Wednesday afternoon.

The title, which gives SUNY Cortland 25 team national championships, caps a historic season of success on the diamond and comes just three days after the College’s women’s lacrosse team won an NCAA crown for the first time.

The win also marks the first time the College has captured two NCAA championships in the same spring sports season and the first time since the fall of 1993 that two SUNY Cortland teams earned national titles in the same sports season. The College’s men’s cross country and men’s lacrosse teams won NCAA crowns in the same calendar year, in 2008-09.

A 6-2 win over Wisconsin-La Crosse clinched the trophy in the best-of-3 series that took place in Grand Chute, Wis. The Red Dragons finished 45-4 on the season, including 9-0 in NCAA tournament play — winning every game they played at the New York Regional and the World Series.

The team also set a program record for wins in a season.

The decisive game proved to be the most dramatic of the eight-team World Series for SUNY Cortland. The team trailed 2-1 in the 9th inning before loading the bases with no outs. Sophomore Nick Hart delivered a two-run single to give SUNY Cortland the lead and the team tacked on three insurance runs to produce the final score.

 

Final double play as Cortland wins its first national title!!

Posted by SUNY Cortland Athletics on Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Red Dragons were playing the first-ever Division III best-of-3 championship series. They knocked off UW-L, 11-3, in Game 1 by piling on six runs late. Prior to that, they won a four-team, double-elimination pool by outscoring their opponents 33-9 over three games.

Junior Conrad Ziemendorf was named Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Division III All-Tournament Team and was joined by teammates junior Seth Lamando, sophomore Matt Michalski, junior Fabio Ricci and junior Brandon Serio.

Dominant pitching and a balanced offensive attack provided separation for the Red Dragons all season. Fifteen positional players started at least 10 games and all of them batted above .300 for the season. The team’s pitching staff posted a team earned run average below 3.00.

Several Red Dragons earned postseason accolades, led by Serio, named State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Pitcher of the Year, a second-team Division III All-American by the web site D3baseball.com and a third-team All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association, and Ziemendorf, tabbed as SUNYAC Player of the Year and an honorable mention All-American by D3baseball.com.

Head coach Joe Brown was selected as the D3baseball.com New York Region Coach of the Year for the second straight year as well as SUNYAC Coach of the Year honors for the fifth time overall. He led the Red Dragons to a 17-1 SUNYAC regular-season mark and the league’s postseason tournament crown. His Cortland squads have won 14 SUNYAC titles in his 16 years as head coach.

The College made its 23rd consecutive NCAA tournament appearance this season, the longest active streak nationally in Division III. SUNY Cortland’s 13 trips to the Division III World Series also are tops nationally since the division adopted an eight-team field in 1991.

Twice, the Red Dragons finished as high as second nationally — in 2005 and 2010.