Torres GW hit caps Keystone rally
Giants score four runs in the final four innings
AUBURN, NY – Gabe Torres' two-out single though the left side capped a Keystone rally that gave the Giants a 5-4 victory against SUNY Cortland that sends Keystone to its first NCAA Division III Finals in school history.
Keystone overcame a three-run deficit against the top-seeded Red Dragons by rallying for four runs in the final four innings to capture the Division III Auburn Regional Championship, their first regional title.
The Giants, making their fourth consecutive NCAA playoff appearance, opened the ninth with a strikeout before Roberto Santana reached base on a single to left field. Cortland attempted to pick off Santana at first, but with no one covering the throw, he advanced to second on the throwing error on a dead play. The Red Dragons intentionally walked Brian Henry before Andy Vega reached on a fielder’s choice, beating the relay throw to prevent the double play, to set up Torres’ hit that will go down in Keystone baseball history.
Keystone will take a 36-10 record into the eight-team final in Appleton, Wis. on May 27-31, where they will take on the winner of the Harwich (Mass.) Regional --either Western New England College or Bridgewater State College--in the opening round.
Keystone will also take a 16-game winning streak into the finals, which includes the three victories in its run to the Colonial State Athletic Conference title (earning the automatic berth to the NCAA tournament) and the four wins in regional play this week.
The Red Dragons, last year’s Division III Finals runner-up, was making its 20th NCAA tournament appearance and 19th in a row, the longest active streak nationally. Cortland's lone two regional losses came at the hands of Keystone.
Torres finished the day 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored, and was one four players tallying multiple hits for the Giants. Designated hitter Andy Vega batted 2-for-5 with a run scored and Lance Ratchford went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Vega and Ratchford were two of four Keystone players on the 10-player All-Tournament team, joining senior catcher Brian Henry and senior pitcher Jeff Frost.
Second baseman Esteban Meletiche, who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, hit 2-for-5 with a pair of runs scored. He finished the regional tournament with a .571 batting average (8-for-14 with two doubles and a home run), a .714 on-base percentage, a .929 slugging percentage, and four stolen bases.
Adam Krebs pitched the final inning in relief to earn the win for the Giants, holding Cortland to two hits while striking out a batter to improve to 4-0 on the year. Tom Nagy was saddled with the loss for the Red Dragons. Nagy pitched the final 2.2 innings, yielding six hits and a walk while striking out two batters.
Third baseman Bryan Mistretta led Cortland with a 3-for-3, one RBI effort and was one of three Red Dragons on the All-Tournament team, joining sophomore right fielder Zack Graczyk and senior pitcher Scott Hartling.
Center fielder Matt Wild and shortstop John Adornetto each finished with two hits and a run scored for Cortland, who took a 3-1 lead through three innings and added a run in the top of the fifth inning for a 4-1 advantage.
Keystone scored twice in the bottom of the sixth to pull to within a run when a Ratchford ground out drove in Vega from third base and a single by pinch hitter Kumar Piar drove in Torres. The Giants tied the score an inning later as Meletchie opened with a bunt single and moved to third on back-to-back ground outs before scoring on an RBI single to shortstop by Henry, who beat the throw out attempt to first by a step.
Cortland had an opportunity to score in the top of the ninth with runners on second and third, but their inning ended on a strikeout. The Red Dragons left 10 runners on base for the game, with runners left in scoring position at third base six times.