Mission accomplished for the Cortland varsity baseball team.
The 2nd-seeded Purple Tigers got their revenge against the 3rd-seeded Christian Brothers Academy, as they beat the Brothers, 9-3, in the Section III Class A semifinals at Onondaga Community College (OCC) on Saturday.
“We wanted some revenge. (CBA) thought they had it in the bag, but we stuck it to them,” said senior outfielder Max Gambitta.
Cortland redeemed itself after they fell to CBA, 6-3 in the sectional semifinal last season. Now, this season, the Tigers will play for a sectional title on Memorial Day.
“It’s awesome. It’s great to go out of senior year with a bang,” Gambitta said.
The Brothers (15-5) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Cortland (19-2) managed to cut it to 2-1 with a run in the bottom of the first.
CBA tacked on another run in the top of the fourth to make it 3-1. Little did CBA know, it would be their last run of the game.
“I thought we started out slow, but the beauty of this team is we never give up,” Gambitta said. “We all picked each other up, which is great.”
The Tigers proceeded to plate five runs in the bottom of the fourth to give them a 6-3 advantage. Cortland scored three more in the bottom of the fifth to round out its scoring effort.
“We had really good approaches in the box. We made (CBA) throw a lot of pitches,” said senior infielder Caden Congdon. “Our hitters had full counts and still got on base.”
Senior pitcher Kooper Knabe had a tough outing on the mound for the Tigers. He went just an inning-plus, giving up four hits and two runs.
Knabe’s teammate, senior hurler Scott Hourigan, picked up him and his team the rest of the way. Hourigan went 5.2 innings and gave up three hits, an unearned run and two walks while striking out six.
“As a pitcher coming in, just the confidence I have of how good our defense is and our offense that we have, that extra boost really helps a pitcher,” Hourigan said, who pitched the game of his life when his team needed it the most.
Cortland coach Ben Albright had a plethora of available arms Saturday evening, but had all of his confidence focused on Hourigan finishing the game strong.
“Scott settled in and threw strikes all game. He kept batters off-balance,” Albright said.
At the dish, Knabe, who moved to third base after starting on the bump, doubled, drove in two runs, scored twice and walked three times. Congdon doubled, singled and scored two runs. Christopher Yang singled twice, scored a run and had an RBI. Albright doubled and knocked in two runs. Ethan Hay and Tyler Blake each had an RBI, scored a run and walked.
Cortland is slated to face 4th-seeded Auburn (14-6) in the sectional final at 6 p.m. Monday at OCC. Cortland is 1-1 against Auburn this season. The Tigers lost 4-2 to the Maroons on May 2, but won 2-1 on May 3.
“We’ll have to come ready to play. We lived to see another day so we’re excited,” Albright said.
The winner of the sectional between the Tigers and Maroons will face Averill Park (Section II) in the New York State Class A Subregional Round this Thursday at a time and place to be determined.
“It would be nice to continue our season in June,” Congdon said. “We’re ready.”