Historic Baseball Season Ends in Dramatic Fashion

Historic Baseball Season Ends in Dramatic Fashion

AUBURN, N.Y. – The Susquehanna baseball team fell just two runs shy of earning the program's first-ever trip to the NCAA Division III World Series. The Crusaders defeated defending national champion and current No. 1 Cortland 8-6 in Saturday's opener before being narrowly edged by the Red Dragons 10-9 in game two.

SU finishes the season with a 33-16 record, making 2016 the winningest season in program history. The Crusaders also picked up three wins in this regional round, the most NCAA Tournament victories in program history.

Game one starter Nathan Madden had a valiant performance, taking the mound for his second start in four days after throwing 80 pitches in SU's first game on May 18. Madden no-hit the No. 1 Red Dragons for seven full innings and finished with 8.2 innings of five-hit ball with six strikeouts.

The top four in Susquehanna's lineup combined to go 9-for-17 with six RBI and five runs scored. Zach Leone, the three hitter, had three hits, two RBI and one run scored. Dylan Glassmire went 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored from the second spot in the lineup.

Susquehanna jumped on Cortland's starting pitcher Ben Moxley in the first inning. SU's first six batters reached base with Matt Cassinelli's single down the left field line sending home the game's first run. Bryan Palsi followed one batter later with a RBI single up the middle for a 2-0 Crusader lead before Cortland even had a chance to bat.

The Red Dragons did get one run back in the bottom of the inning without the courtesy of a hit. Madden hit three of the first four Cortland batters and Conrad Ziemendorf's bases-loaded walk cut SU's lead in half (2-1).

In the top of the second inning, Glassmire came through with a one-out RBI single through the left side that allowed Tom Giamo to score and make it a 3-1 Crusader lead.

With one out in the top of the fourth, Susquehanna put runners on the corners and Glassmire's RBI sac bunt made it a 4-1 ballgame. Leone's hard knock up the middle drove home yet another run and Susquehanna took a 5-1 edge.

Leone came up with a two-out, RBI double in the sixth inning to stretch SU's lead to five (6-1) and then a fielding error by the Cortland first baseman allowed Dylan Jenkins to score Susquehanna's seventh run of the game.

The very next inning, Justin Cassinelli led off the eighth inning with a solo shot that stayed just fair for an 8-2 SU lead.

Madden's no-hitter was broken up in the bottom of the eighth by the inning's leadoff hitter, Nick Hart, who knocked a double to deep right field. Austin Clock followed with a double to nearly the exact same spot as Hart, which allowed Hart to score Cortland's second run of the contest.

Susquehanna took that 8-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth where Cortland nearly mounted an epic comeback. Paul Dondero led off the inning with a double and with one out, Connor Griffin followed with a single to right. Steven Figueroa drove in a run with a single through the left side, prompting Denny Bowers to bring in closer Liam Conboy.

The Red Dragons proceeded to load the bases with two outs and Cortland went on to score three additional runs on two singles and a bases loaded walk before Conboy got Dondero to reach on a fielder's choice in which Ralph Nuzzi was out at third to end the game.

In game two, the Crusaders gave the Red Dragons a run for their money, trimming what had been an 8-2 Cortland lead to 10-9 by the time the game to a close.

Leone finished game two with three hits and two runs scored and Palsi finished with three RBI on two hits. Luckenbill added four hits, two runs scored and one RBI.

SU used three pitchers in the game with Matt Cassinelli earning the start. Cole Luzins went 3.2 innings in relief before giving way to Bobby Klatt, who tossed the final two innings.

In game two, it was the Red Dragons who jumped out to the 2-0, first-inning lead. Steven Figueroa belted a solo shot over the right centerfield fence and Ziemendorf came through with a one-out, RBI single that scored Clock for the 2-0 Cortland lead.

Taylor Luckenbill led off the bottom of the second with a double to right center and came around to score on Justin Cassinelli's single up the middle.

Unfortunately, Ziemendorf came through with a one-out, bases-clearing triple in the top of the following inning to put the Red Dragons ahead 5-1.

Palsi drove in SU's second run of the game with a single past the reach of the second baseman that allowed Leone to score.

Cortland tacked on another three runs in the fourth, though, two of which scored via a Fabio Ricci shot over the left field fence.

Palsi's two-run single up the middle cut Cortland's lead in half, 8-4, with one out in the bottom of the fifth. Susquehanna put runners on first and second, still with one out, and Giamo's infield hit to deep third allowed SU's fifth run of the game to score.

Cortland took a 9-5 lead in the top of the sixth before Dylan Jenkins rocketed a one-run double to right field to make it a three-run game (9-6), still with one out in the sixth. Palsi was intentionally walked to load the bases. Luckenbill came through with a run-scoring single through the left side to make it a 9-7 and Luzins's groundout allowed Jenkins to score for a one-run game (9-8) after six.

It remained 9-8 into the ninth inning until the Red Dragons added an insurance run in their half of the inning, putting SU in a 10-8 hole heading into the bottom of the ninth. In that ninth inning, Justin Cassinelli drove home Luckenbill with a hard single to left center. With Cassinelli on first and two outs, Glassmire flied out to center and the Crusaders' historic season came to a close.

Postgame Note:
- SU's last no-hitter was a perfect game thrown by John Lunardi '09, who tossed his perfect game on April 8, 2009 against Drew University.
- The Crusaders had three players named to the Regional All-Tournament Team: Matt Cassinelli, Justin Cassinelli, Zach Leone