Although the school is about 250 miles away, SUNY Cortland's championship baseball team has a strong Long Island connection.

Pitchers Brandon McClain (Coram), Alex Weingarten (East Rockaway), Ryan McAlary (Shoreham), Evan Honce (East Patchogue) and Patrick Healy (Massapequa), shortstop Keith Andrews (Commack) and infielder Paul Dondero (Islip Terrace) helped to lead the Red Dragons to the NCAA Division III title on May 27.

"I don't think this feeling will ever go away," said McClain, a lefthander who went to Longwood High School. McClain (6-1) allowed two runs, six hits and two walks in 51/3 innings, striking out four, in Game 1 of the final against the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, which proved to be his last collegiate appearance.

"Brandon will go down as being one of the toughest young men I've ever coached as far as his ability to pitch hurt, tired, in any weather condition . . . It didn't matter, he took the ball," Cortland coach Joe Brown said.

McClain had a 2.33 ERA and struck out 39 in 54 innings this season. He was named a first-team Division III All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association in his junior year.

Weingarten, who attended Lynbrook High School and played two years at Farmingdale State before transferring to Cortland, also was a big contributor.

He allowed four runs, eight hits and two walks, striking out nine, in a 17-4 complete-game victory over Frostburg State in pool play, landing Cortland a spot in the championship round.

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"Alex is an exceptionally confident pitcher," Brown said. "I think having a regular throwing schedule helped with his success this year."

The junior had a 2.83 ERA, striking out 47 and walking seven in 601/3 innings.

Cortland defeated La Crosse, 6-2, in Game 2 to clinch the national title. The Red Dragons were down 2-1 before rallying for five runs in the top of the ninth.

"All year we've been coming back late in the game," Weingarten said. "We knew we were one inning away from winning the championship."

Cortland (45-4) made its 13th World Series appearance since 1995. The Red Dragons finished 5-0 in the World Series: three wins in pool play and two in the best-of-three championship round.

"I think we finally reached the goal we've been working toward all season," Weingarten said. "It's definitely something I'll remember for the rest of my life."