It was a devastating 8-0 loss for the Cortland Tigers at home against the Auburn Maroons in the first round of the Section III Class A conference playoffs Tuesday night.
The Tigers were having trouble against Auburn since the beginning of the season, with Auburn winning both games the two teams played during the regular season.
“We stuck with what we worked on all season,” said Cortland head coach Ben Albright. “We had our ace Caleb Thompson. He has been great all season for us, but Auburn came out, hit the ball well and hard and made plays defensively.”
Coming into this loss, the Tigers were seeded third with a 15-4 overall record and an 11-4 record in their conference, while Auburn was seeded sixth with a 13-6 overall and an 11-3 conference record.
Auburn gave the Tigers no chance coming into the game. At the top of the first inning, Auburn senior Jacob Coleman hit one deep into right field to bring two runners home to take an early 2-0 lead. Cortland came into the bottom of the first batting three straight ground balls that were easily picked up and thrown to first base getting all batters out.
Auburn then started dominating the rest of the way, hitting triples and doubles and quickly increasing their lead. The Tigers were barely able to get to first base throughout the game. By the end of the fifth inning, Auburn was leading 5-0.
The Tigers still had hope coming into the top of the sixth inning after senior pitcher Caleb Thompson caught Auburn’s Austin Black trying to steal second base, following it with a strikeout on the next play.
“Caleb, when he is on, he makes many plays and gets a lot of strikeouts,” said Coach Albright. “He did keep us in the game and not let it get out of hand. So we have to give him that. We weren’t able to get good hits to support him offensively.”
Thompson pitched for the first six innings of the game in which he threw a total of six strikeouts. Auburn finished the Tigers off in the last inning, with them filling up all of the bases and scoring three straight runs.
Cortland’s Jake Prunier had a big double play at the end of the top of the last inning, giving the Tigers momentum and hope coming into the bottom of the seventh. But they quickly ran out of gas, ending their season.
“Looking back through the season, 15-4 in the regular season is pretty impressive,” said Coach Albright. “We came off a tough season last year and talked about getting in the right mindset, being positive and into the mental approach to the game. Our senior class was outstanding. They brought a lot of young guys and taught them how to play the game the right way. We certainly preach that to them. They did a nice job teaching the young talent, so the future looks bright from here.”