CORTLAND, N.Y. – Mat Bruno's (Rye) two-run single gave Cortland the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth and Chris Puzakulics (Vestal) struck out six batters over four scoreless innings of relief for the save as the host and top-seeded Red Dragons defeated fourth-seeded Oneonta, 8-7, to advance to the championship round of the SUNYAC tournament.
Cortland (31-10-1) will face second-seeded Oswego Monday at noon and will need to defeat the Lakers twice in order to win the league title. The first game of the championship round was originally going to start Sunday afternoon but was pushed back to Monday due to the weather. Oswego improved to 2-0 in the tournament with a 5-2 win over Oneonta in Sunday's opening contest.
Bruno finished 3-for-4 with two RBI to lead Cortland's 14-hit attack. Dan Schweitzer (Poughquag/Arlington) and Wyatt Myers (Chittenango) each homered, and they were two of four Red Dragon players with two hits apiece along with Colin BeVard (Syracuse/West Genesee) and James Varian (Hopewell Junction/Trinity-Pawling). BeVard registered a triple and a double and Varian drove in two runs.
Mike Graves went 2-for-4 with a triple and four RBI for Oneonta (18-20). James Zupo was 1-for-3 with a walk, RBI and two runs.
Jake Casey (Homer) started for Cortland and allowed four runs in four-plus innings. He gave up three hits and five walks and struck out four. Nick Morena (Holbrook/Sachem North) entered in the fifth and was the pitcher of record when Cortland took the lead in the bottom of the inning. Puzakulics started the sixth and dominated for the final four innings, allowing only one baserunner on a two-out walk in the top of the ninth. His six strikeouts included three in the seventh and two in the ninth.
The teams traded the lead four times over the first five innings, and neither scored from the sixth inning on. BeVard doubled and scored on a Varian single in the first. Each team scored twice in the second – Oneonta on a Graves RBI groundout and a Sean McGlynn RBI infield single, and Cortland on an Andrew Michalski (Buffalo/St. Francis) sac fly and an error.
Cortland took a 5-2 lead in the third on solo homers by Schweitzer and Myers. Oneonta mounted a five-run top of the fifth to grab a 7-5 lead behind a Jonathan Lezette sac fly, a Zupo RBI single and Graves' three-run triple. Cortland rallied in the bottom of the fifth when Schweitzer doubled with one out and scored on a Varian single, followed by a single from Myers and Bruno's two-run double to right.