Farmingdale State's baseball team almost made it to the championship game of the NCAA Division III Regional. Clinging to a 1-0 lead against Cortland in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday, Farmingdale was three outs away from beating the No. 2 team in the nation and forcing a winner-take-all second game for a trip to the World Series in Appleton, Wis.
Cortland (39-7-1) scored twice in its last at-bat for a 2-1 victory. Host Farmingdale (32-12) had handled every team in the tournament except for two games with Cortland. What stung the Rams was outhitting Cortland, 22-6 in the defeats.
"It's always disappointing when you outhit a team and you don't come away with the victory,'' Rams catcher Frank Scarlato said. "But they're a good program, we're a good program. We felt like we showed a lot of steps. We feel like we are dead even.''
Farmingdale's lone run came when Scarlato's single to center in the third inning scored Anthony Alvino. They had seven hits off Cortland Starter John Molloy (Rockville Centre) in the first three innings. Farmingdale pitchers Connor Henson and Mike Dolce shut down Cortland on two hits through eight innings.
In the Cortland ninth, John Adornetto (Commack) led off with a walk and was bunted to second by Max Rosing (Rockville Centre). Mike LaTempa was next and he belted a triple to left center, scoring Adornetto with the tying run.
"I just thought to shorten up and put the bat on the ball,'' LaTempa said. "I knew I hit the barrel, it felt really nice. I just put my head down and ran.''
Dolce walked the next batter, Tim Panetta, and Michael Santagata was brought in to face pinch-hitter P.J. Rinaldi. With only one out, the outfield was moved in. Rinaldi popped a fly to centerfielder Edward Bergmann. It broke off his glove and LaTempa scored the winning run. "I think I just let my body get ahead of me,'' Bergmann said. "My glove was off to the side and I took my eye off the ball.''
Did Bergmann think he had a shot at getting LaTempa at the plate? "I backed up a lot to get behind it," he said, "so I couldn't even tell how close it would have been.''
Though Bergmann was charged with an error, the official scorer also ruled it a sacrifice fly, believing the runner from third would have scored.
Plays at the plate plagued Farmingdale in the losses to Cortland. First, a runner was tagged out in Friday's 4-2 defeat. In the sixth inning Saturday, Scarlato, who was on second with a double and two outs, was thrown out when he tried to score after the leftfielder bobbled the ball.
After the team huddled for a post game speech, Farmingdale coach Keith Osik spoke of the positives this season.
"I couldn't be more proud of these kids, as if they won it,'' he said. "They elevated this program to new heights even though we didn't win it.''