BABSON PARK, MASS. – Connor Gill singled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning as nationally seventh-ranked Babson defeated 19th-ranked Cortland, 7-6, in Game 1 of a best-of-three NCAA Division III super regional at Babson's Govoni Field.
The teams will meet again Saturday at 11 a.m., with Cortland needing a victory to force a winner-take-all final game later in the day. The winner of the super regional will advance to the NCAA Division III World Series May 31-June 5 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Cortland (34-12-1) outhit Babson (37-8) by an 11-5 margin, but the Beavers drew 10 walks, including four in a five-run first inning. Cortland rallied to score four times in the sixth and tied the game at 5-5 in the top of the seventh. Babson regained the lead in the bottom of the seventh, but the Red Dragons came back to knot the game with a run in the top of the ninth on a Marcos Perivolaris (Mattituck) leadoff triple and a passed ball.
Babson's winning rally in the bottom of the ninth started with a Thomas Lapham leadoff walk. Brian McHale bunted Lapham to second and Gill laced a single to left center to end the game.
Babson's five-run first started with a McHale single. Sean Harrington walked with one out, and an error on a pickoff attempt by the catcher allowed a run to score. Jake Oliger, Eric Jaun and Edward Lehr drew consecutive walks, the last of which forced in a run, and Matthew Valente cleared the bases with a three-run double down the right field line.
Cortland starter Matt Valin (LaFargeville) settled down after the first inning and received a no decision after Cortland tied the game. He went six innings and gave up three hits and seven walks and struck out seven. Dan Hobbs (Saratoga Springs) allowed one run on one hit with two walks and a strikeout in two innings and Chris Puzakulics (Vestal) took the loss after entering to start the bottom of the ninth.
Babson starter Tyler Bell retired the first 14 batters he faced, starting with right fielder Jaun robbing Scott Giordano (Croton-on-Hudson/Croton-Harmon) of a homer just two pitches into the game. Mat Bruno (Rye) singled with two outs in the fifth for Cortland's first baserunner, stole second and went to third on an error but was stranded.
Perivolaris and pinch hitter Danny Coleman (Saratoga Springs) opened the bottom of the sixth with singles to put runners on first and third and Giordano lined a single to right to drive in a run. Coleman later scored on a balk, and a Dan Schweitzer (Poughquag/Arlington) RBI single to left made it 5-3 and knocked Bell out of the game. Bruno followed three batters later with a run-scoring single to left.
Cortland tied the game in the seventh on Colin BeVard's (Syracuse/West Genesee) two-out RBI single to right center after Perivolaris led off the inning with a single and was bunted to second by Coleman. Babson responded in the bottom of the seventh on a one-out walk by Gill, a steal, an intentional walk to Harrington and an Oliger RBI single through the left side.
Perivolaris finished 3-for-4 with a triple and three runs scored, Bruno went 3-for-4 with an RBI and BeVard was 2-for-5 with an RBI for the Red Dragons. Valente ended 1-for-2 with a double, two walks and three RBI and Gill was 1-for-3 with two walks and an RBI for the Beavers. Max Tannenbaum, the third Babson reliever, received the win despite allowing the tying run in the top of the ninth.