Courtesy of Cortland Sports Information Department
PITTSFORD, N.Y. - Kristina Balsano hit a two-run homer in the top of the eighth inning and nationally eighth-ranked St. John Fisher defeated Cortland, 4-2, to complete a two-game sweep of the Red Dragons in the NCAA Division III super regional round.
The Cardinals (41-6) earned a return trip to the eight-team NCAA Division III World Series, which will be held in Oklahoma City May 25-30. Cortland closes the season with a 33-15 record and finishes tied for ninth in the NCAA tournament.
Lindsey Thayer, the super regional's Most Outstanding Pitcher, earned the win for the hosts and improved to 28-5. She allowed three hits and two runs, one earned, with one walk and 11 strikeouts.
Sam Van Dorn (Medford/Patchogue-Medford) took the loss in relief for Cortland and closes the year with a 9-3 mark. She entered in the third inning with two runners on and game tied 1-1 and got a fielder's choice to end the threat. She tossed five and a third innings and allowed six hits and three runs with two strikeouts and a walk. Alexandrea Flint (Dalton/Keshequa) started for the Red Dragons and allowed a run on four hits with three walks in two and two thirds innings.
Cortland grabbed a pair of one-run leads off the returning All-American Thayer. Kelly O'Gorman (Clifton Park/Shenendehowa) hit a solo homer in the bottom of the second - her fifth round-tripper of the season - to put the Red Dragons ahead 1-0. Fisher tied the game in the top of the third on a Genevieve Paeglow RBI single, but Cortland regained the lead in the bottom of the inning. Hannah Thornhill (Heuvelton) reached on an error and pinch runner Alissa DePadua (Milford, PA/Delaware Valley) took second on a wild pitch. With one out, Rosie Phillips (Geneva/Our Lady of Mercy) hit an RBI double to left center.
Fisher tied the game in the fourth. The Cardinals loaded the bases with no outs on an error, a Julia Sortisio infield single and a Katie Mazierski bunt single. Van Dorn got the next batter to ground to short for a force at home, but Sarah Kubik singled through the right side to drive in the tying run. The damage could have been worse, but two Fisher runners were thrown out on the bases after the run scored in a crazy sequence to end the inning.
Cortland also escaped a jam earlier in the game when Fisher loaded the bases with no outs in the second before Flint induced a lineout, a shallow fly out and a foul pop-up.
The Red Dragons had a runner reach third base in the bottom of the fourth when Ericka Sadowski (Liverpool) walked and eventually advanced on a passed ball and a wild pitch before a strikeout ended the inning. Thayer retired the last 14 batters she faced after the Sadowski walk, six by strikeout.
Fisher's go-ahead rally started with a one-out single by Emma Savas. Balsano, the super regional's Most Outstanding Player, followed with her sixth homer of the season to right field for the decisive runs.
Ashley Prince finished 2-for-3 with a walk, Paeglow was 2-for-4 with an RBI, and Sortisio went 2-for-5, while Danielle Ventrone reached base via walk three times for the Cardinals. O'Gorman finished 1-for-3 and Phillips was 1-for-4 with an RBI for the Red Dragons, who were making their third straight NCAA appearance and 22nd overall.