Cook Lifts Amherst to Upset of No. 3 Cortland, 6-3
Contact: Matthew Hart
AUBURN, N.Y. -- Bob Cook '13 hurled a complete game and went 3-for-3 at the plate, lifting the Amherst College baseball team to a 6-3 upset win over No. 3 SUNY Cortland in NCAA Regional action Thursday at Falcon Park. The Lord Jeffs (27-11) set a new program record for wins in a season with the triumph, beating their second top-25 opponent in as many days.
Amherst now advances to face top-seeded and seventh-ranked Ithaca College at 4:30 p.m. on Friday as the Jeffs and Bombers remain the last two unbeaten squads in the eight-team double-elimination tournament. Ithaca defeated Farmingdale State, 4-1, earlier Thursday. Cortland (35-10) drops into the losers' bracket and will meet Neumann at 1:15 p.m. on Friday.
Improving to 5-2 on the year, Cook kept the powerful Red Dragon lineup in check, scattering five hits while striking out five and walking two. Meanwhile, the senior co-captain sparked the Jeff offense, scoring two runs and driving in one as he singled in his first three at-bats and walked in his fourth. Alex Hero '14 went 2-for-3 with an RBI single and Taiki Kasuga '14 was 2-for-4 for the Jeffs.
Trailing 1-0, Amherst erupted for four runs in the bottom of the first against SUNYAC Pitcher of the Year Kyle Barkley to take control of the contest. The Red Dragon ace lasted 3.2 innings, surrendering six runs (four earned) on nine hits while striking out six and walking none. After Amherst padded its lead with single runs in the third and fourth, John Molloy came on and tossed 4.1 scoreless frames for Cortland, but the Red Dragons could not break through against Cook. Zack Graczyk went 2-for-4 and Tim Panetta ripped a solo home run in the seventh, but Cortland managed just two other hits as Cook pumped 80 of his 116 pitches for strikes and induced 18 groundouts.
Graczyk and Chris Jackson singled with one out in the first before P.J. Rinaldi’s RBI groundout put Cortland up 1-0, but Amherst came out raking in the bottom half. Jonathan Ramirez ’16, Kasuga, Hero, and Cook greeted Barkley with four consecutive singles to start the contest, with Cook’s liner to center evening the score. One out later, Amherst plated two more on one of the game’s crucial plays. With the bases loaded, Dave Cunningham ’16 slapped a hard grounder to third, but Anthony Iacomini’s throw to the plate hit Kasuga in the back and squirted away, turning a force out or potential double-play into a two-run error as Hero raced all the way home from second after the deflection. Conner Gunn ’16 then ripped a single up the middle to score Cook and cap the decisive inning for Amherst.
The Jeffs padded their lead in the third as Cook led off with a single, Mike Odenwaelder ’16 sacrificed him to second and Cunningham singled to put runners on the corners. After Gunn fanned, Amherst got crafty with two outs, running a double steal as Cortland couldn’t get the tag on Cunningham at second and Cook scampered home after the throw.
An inning later, the Jeffs tacked on another against Barkley, with Andrew Vandini ’16 singling to center, Ramirez laying down a sacrifice, then a balk moving him to third. After Kasuga grounded out, Hero made it 6-1 with an RBI single, chasing Barkley from the contest with two down. Cook then greeted Molloy with hard line drive over first base, but Hero tried to score all the way from first and was cut down easily at the plate to end the inning.
Cortland scratched a run across in the fifth as Cook hit Mistretta with one out and a balk, groundout, and passed ball brought him home. But the Jeff righty grew stronger as the contest progressed, with Panetta’s one-out blast over the wall in right one of just two Red Dragon baserunners over the final four frames. After a perfect eighth, Cook gave up a one-out double to Iacomini in the ninth, but Brian Barry flew out to Hero in center then the righty struck out Panetta on a foul tip caught by Cunningham to end the game.
The Jeff infield was kept busy all night, with Vandini tallying seven assists from second base to highlight the defensive effort. Meanwhile, the Amherst bats pounded 11 hits one night after ripping 20, bringing the Jeffs’ team batting average to .413 (31-for-75) over the two games.
With the win, Amherst surpassed the victory total of the 1999 team which went 26-6. The Jeffs will look to match that squad’s program-record run to the NCAA Regional final with a triumph on Friday.
2013 Ncaa baseball championship -- new york regional