Walk-Off Win Keeps Panthers Baseball Playoff Hopes Alive

Coach Ryan Stevens and Austin Kulas
Coach Ryan Stevens and Austin Kulas

A two-run rally in extra innings gave the Panthers baseball team a walk-off win and a doubleheader sweep of Corning Community College Thursday, keeping the hopes alive for making the postseason. Tompkins Cortland won the first game 9-2 before needing eight innings to win the second game, 5-4.  The wins improves the Panthers to 12-9 in the West Division, still in fifth place, and 16-15 overall. Corning is 11-25 overall and 8-20 in division.


Tompkins Cortland 9, Corning 2

Joseph Tummino (Homer/Homer H.S.) was the story of game one. The freshman went 4-for-4 at the plate with a double, driving in three and scoring another three runs. If that isn't enough, he also started on the mound and threw six strong innings to earn the win. He allowed just one earned run on five hits while striking out four.  

Tummino wasn't alone in putting up some good offensive numbers in the opener. Alex Babcock (Cortland/Cortland H.S.) had two doubles while going 2-for-4 with one RBI and three runs scored. Brandon Grant (Homer/Homer H.S.) and Jinwoo Baek (Osan-si, South Korea/Yatap H.S.) each went 2-for-3 with a double, with Grant adding an RBI and two runs scored. Austin Kulas (Moravia/Moravia H.S.) had a double while going 2-for-4 with two RBI. The two-bagger for Kulas gives him 17 for the year, tying the Panthers single-season record set in 2010 by both Dan Zambito and Anthony Siracusa.


Tompkins Cortland 5, Corning 4  (8 innings)

The Panthers took the lead in game two with a run in the bottom of the first and then, after Corning had scored twice in the top of the third, reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the third with two runs to make it 3-2.  While it felt like the Panthers were in control, they couldn't shake the Red Barons. The visitors battled, and came back to tie the game at 3-3 in the top of the sixth. The game remained tied at 3-3 after the bottom of the inning, and a scoreless seventh by both teams sent the game to extra innings.

In the top of the eighth, Corning scraped across a run, taking the lead at 4-3. Relief pitcher Joey Kench (West Henrietta/Rush-Henrietta H.S.) worked out of trouble to limit the damage, but the game went to the bottom of the inning with the Panthers down to their last three outs. It turns out, they didn't need any of the three.

Ethan Buckley (Bath/Haverling H.S.) opened the inning with a clean single to left. Babcock followed with a long double, scoring Buckley all the way from first with the tying run. After Corning intentionally walked Tummino, Grant came to the plate, and he made them pay. The sophomore lined a base hit to the outfield that brought Babcock around to score, barely beating the relay throw and sliding in with the winning run.

Three Tompkins Cortland pitchers combined to strike out 12 batters, with starting Ryan Pepicelli (Schenectady/Schalmont H.S.) notching nine Ks over four and a third innings. Jacob Mosher (Pulaski/Pulaski H.S.) worked four outs, recording one strikeout, and Kench pitched two and a third innings, striking out two and earning the win.

Babcock, Grant, Kulas, and Daniel Santiago (Newburgh/Newburgh Academy) each had two hits. Tummino added one hit, leaving him with 52 for this freshman campaign, one shy of the program record for base hits in a season.


Looking ahead

The Panthers play at Onondaga Community College Saturday.