Down to its last out and facing a two-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning on its senior day, Cornell baseball’s final home game looked lost. Then, with a full count, senior catcher Will Simoneit stepped back in the batter’s box and sent the baseball over Hoy Field’s left-field wall.
With men on first and second, the home run was a walk-off — Cornell took the game over Penn, 8-7.
Earlier in the weekend, the doubleheader on Saturday started in Penn’s favor thanks to the Quakers’ six runs over Cornell’s two in game one, but the Red turned things around quickly after to earn the split with a narrow 4-3 victory.
That 8-7 walk-off win over Penn the next day earned the Red its first series win of the season.
The Red got the ball rolling early in game one as Simoneit homered — for the first time in the weekend — to left-center in the bottom of the first inning.
Cornell put up another run in the next inning when junior infielder Matt Collins, who had taken an extra base off of a Penn throwing error, was knocked in by a sacrifice fly hit by classmate Alex Carnegie.
After Penn starting pitcher Christian Scafidi got off to a shaky start, allowing two runs early in the game, he shut out the Red for the remaining seven innings. Scafidi pitched a complete game, striking out eight batters and allowing just three more hits after the two that created scoring plays.
More Cornell batters provided solid hits in game two, notably freshman catcher Austin Flematti who homered in the bottom of the second inning to get the Red on the scoreboard first. The Red’s bats quieted for a bit until the one-two combination of seniors Adam Saks and Josh Ardnt secured another run for the Red.
On the mound for the Red, freshman Jon Zacharias got the nod for his third start of the season. Zacharias threw for four innings with three strikeouts and limited Penn to three runs. Lights-out contributions from juniors Andrew Ellison and John Natoli prevented the Quakers from tacking on any more runs.
Up until the ninth inning, the Red trailed Penn by one. With one out, Carnegie ripped a hit down the left side and Flematti followed suit with a single to left field. After Penn’s pitching change with the intention of preventing the tying and go-ahead runs on base from scoring, freshman Niko Lillios pinch-ran for Flematti. Now with two outs, Saks came in clutch with his second hit of the game and third hit of the day in the form of a triple that brought in the two victory-earning runs for the Red.
April 28 marked the rubber game of the series and the last home game of the 2019 season.
The three seniors in the lineup, batting in the leadoff, two and three spots — Saks, Ardnt, Simoneit — starred in several scoring plays and combined for six hits, two walks and five runs for the Red.
After entering the ninth and final inning trailing Penn by two runs, the seniors made the most of their last home game. With two outs and Lillios in scoring position, Ardnt drew a walk to put the tying run on base. Simoneit, the winning run, approached the plate at Hoy Field for the last time. Simoneit smashed his a walk-off home run to left field, bringing Cornell to a sweet senior day victory.
With one league series left in the season, Cornell’s record stands at 11-22 overall (6-12 Ivy League). Next weekend, Cornell looks to round out Ivy play at Dartmouth College.