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Crush Rally, Shirley Walks It Off!

By Cam Woodard, 07/13/21, 12:00PM EDT

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CORTLANDVILLE - The Cortland Crush faced the Sherrill Silversmiths at Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex for a nine inning game on Monday night beginning at 6pm. After Sherrill jumped out to an early lead, Cortland battled back and rallied late, winning the game 5-6 in walk-off fashion courtesy of Crush veteran Buzz Shirley.

The game got off to a slow start for Cortland as they struggled to find a groove up on the mound and at the plate. Hunter Nelson got the start but was relieved by Joel Ciccarelli in the top of the first after Nelson loaded up the bases with one out. Ciccarelli got Cortland out of the jam, however not before giving up an earned run for Nelson on a two RBI single from Ben Metzner to get it started on the board for Sherrill.

The game stayed 2-0 Silversmiths until the top of the sixth when they would eventually strike again. Cortland could only string together three hits until their eventual scoring outburst in the bottom of the sixth as Sherrill starting pitcher Ziv Gar was solid through six innings of work. Gar only allowed one run on five hits and picked up six strikeouts against the Crush lineup.

With Garett Bell on the mound for Cortland after relieving Ciccarelli in the fifth, Sherrill picked up two more runs to add to their lead in the top of six. Brady O'brien hit an RBI single to score Josh Bien, who walked, and O’brien was knocked into home on an RBI triple from Cam Caraher.

The Crush answered back though and finally put up a run of their own in the bottom half of the frame. Alexis Castillo got things started at the plate with a lead off double. After moving to third on a wild pitch, Castillo then scored on a sacrifice fly from Nick Pastore to make the score 4-1 Silversmiths.

Both teams were quiet in the seventh. For Sherrill, Gar was relieved on the mound by Elijah Cohen while Brett Dunham subbed in for Bell on the Crush’s side. Each pitcher was able to shut down the bats in the seventh until Sherril scored once again in the top of the  eighth. Caraher hit a fielder's choice ground ball and James Schmidt scored on the play to make the score 5-1.

Cortland rallied back in the bottom of the eighth though, and tied up the game. Griffin Gilbert came in on the mound for Sherril and the Crush found much success facing him. Castillo, Pastore, and Jason Boule each hit a single to get the inning started with three straight hits. Tommy Thaman then hit a two RBI single that scored Castillo and Pastore. Boule later scored on a fielder's choice play courtesy of Zach Marriot, and Marriot scored from third on a wild pitch to tie the game at five.

Sherrill looked to take the lead in the top of the ninth, however a big strikeout for the final out of the inning from Crush winning pitcher Edward Hardiman who subbed for Dunham, sent the Crush back out on offense with momentum and a chance to walk it off. After Javier Rosa ripped a lead off double to get the bottom of the ninth started, Shirley came up in the very next at bat and ended the game scoring Rosa from second on a single out to right as Cortland picked up a great team win.

“I knew from the last inning the pitcher was pretty heavy on off speed, so I knew to expect that. He threw a curve ball and I was sitting on it and ready,” said Shirley. “I saw the ball go by the first baseman and I was pretty pumped. I know Javi (Rosa) has some wheels and that coach was going to send him home to make it interesting and it just happened to pan out so I felt pretty good; really exciting.”

The Crush have now won their third straight contest and their eight against Sherrill this summer. Cortland will look to keep things rolling at home today and beat their rival Syracuse Salt Cats for a 1pm game at Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex.