Bouncing back from a heart-breaking loss in the opener to earn a doubleheader split, the Panthers baseball team gained some ground in the late-season push for a playoff spot. After losing 3-2 to Onondaga Community College in game one, Tompkins Cortland won game two 4-1. The split moves the Panthers to 17-16 overall and 13-10 in the West Division. Combined with Niagara's sweep of Genesee on Saturday, the Panthers are now one game behind Genesee for fourth place and the final playoff spot in the West Division. Onondaga 12-23 overall and 10-21 in division.
Onondaga 3, Tompkins Cortland 2
The Panthers led the entire game. The first run came on a two-out RBI single by Ryan Ballard (Rochester/Greece Athena H.S.), and the second came on another two-out RBI single in the sixth inning, this by Ryan Foody (Tully/Tully H.S.). At the same time, Tompkins Cortland's starting pitcher Ethan Buckley (Bath/Haverling H.S.) was dealing, allowing just three base runners and striking out six over the first five innings. Onondaga broke through in the bottom of the sixth, taking advantage of a walk and an error in the infield to score a run and cut the Panthers' lead to 2-1 heading to the seventh.
After the Panthers loaded the bases but couldn't score in the top of the seventh, the Lazers came to the plate. Buckley started the inning with his seventh strikeout, but then allowed back-to-back doubles, tying the game at 2-2. After walking the next batter, Buckley handed the ball over to the bullpen. On the second pitch thrown by reliever Joey Kench (West Henrietta/Rush-Henrietta H.S.), Onondaga's hitter produced a double, scoring the game-winning run.
Buckley took the loss despite putting up a quality line, allowing just four hits and two earned runs while striking out seven over six and a third innings. At the plate, Brandon Grant (Homer/Homer H.S.) led the team by going 2-for-3 with a walk.
Tompkins Cortland 4, Onondaga 1
In game two it was the Panthers who scored late to pull out the win. After each team scored a single run in the third, the score remained knotted until the top of the fifth. Buckley led off with a double. One out later, Alex Babcock (Cortland/Cortland H.S.) and Joseph Tummino (Homer/Homer H.S.) went back-to-back with RBI doubles, making it 3-1. When Tummino eventually came around to the score, the Panthers led 4-1.
Starting pitcher Hyen Ho Cho (Asan-si, South Korea/Sekwang) had the big shutdown inning, setting the Lazers down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the fifth to keep it 4-1. Onondaga loaded the bases with one outs in the sixth, but Cho worked out the jam with two strikeouts. A perfect seventh gave Cho his second complete game win this week, improving his record to 4-0 on the year.
In addition to the great performance by Cho, Tummino put his name in the record books. His two hits in the nightcap gives him 54 for the season, which break the team record of 53 set by Dan Zambito in 2010.
Babcock also had a good game two, going 3-for-4 at the plate with a double, an RBI, and a run scored. Ballard added a 2-for-3 effort in game two.
The Panthers play at Jamestown Community College Sunday. The doubleheader start time has been pushed back to 3 p.m.