Rowan Baseball’s Season Comes to an End After Lost to SUNY Cortland in the NCAA Division III World Series

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Rowan pitcher Eli Atiya throwing a pitch against Marietta College during the NCAA Regionals. Atiya had six strikeouts in the lose against SUNY Cortland in the NCAA World Series. Saturday, May 29, 2021. - Photo Credit / Rebecca Wheeler

Rowan’s World Series run came to an end after losing to The State University of New York College at Cortland, 4-2, on Saturday night.

It was an elimination game for both teams, after Rowan lost to Wheaton and SUNY Cortland lost to Salisbury the day prior.

Eli Atiya, the Rowan sophomore, got the start on the mound against SUNY Cortland and had another strong performance. Through the first seven innings, Atiya only allowed five hits and gave up no runs. While the offense struggled, Atiya’s performance gave the team a boost and kept them in a position to win until late in the game.

“He’s a good pitcher. You don’t win nine games by mistake,” said SUNY Cortland head coach, Joe Brown. “I tip my cap to him. He’s good.”

Heading into the eighth inning, Rowan was hanging onto a 1-0 lead. Atiya came back out on the mound and threw his 100th pitch of the game to start the inning, but after giving up a leadoff double, reliever Zach Listro began to warm up in the bullpen.

A costly error the following at-bat would end up scoring the tying run and put the go-ahead run at third base with no outs for SUNY Cortland. An RBI single by first baseman Matthew Krafft gave SUNY Cortland a 2-1 lead, and a sacrifice bunt moved him over to second base.

Following the sacrifice bunt, Listro would come in for Atiya, closing Atiya’s season with a performance consisting of seven and a third innings pitched, six strikeouts, and one earned run.

“Every single time he goes out there I know he’s going to pitch great. He’s been one of our guys this year, along with Donald [Zellman] and [Drew] Ryback and a couple of guys. He’s still young. He’s got a great career in front of him and he’s really going to be an issue in the future, plus he already is now,” said senior catcher, Jared Marks.

Listro came in and picked off Krafft at second base, but the umpire crew would overturn it after a replay review. Krafft scored a run a few at bats later due to an RBI double, making the score 3-1. This would not be the last time replay review stung Rowan in the inning, as a confusing play at home would end up scoring another run only a few at bats later.

With runners on first and third base and two outs in the inning, SUNY Cortland attempted a double steal. Marks pump faked on a throw to second before throwing it over to third in an attempt to catch the lead runner, pinch runner Paul Franzese, retreating. Franzese then ran home and was tagged out in a collision with Marks.

Franzese was initially called out on the play, ending the inning. However, the umpires would initiate a replay review, which after an extended amount of time, would overturn the call on the field and give SUNY Cortland  a 4-1 lead.

“I threw it down to third, it was a close play at the plate and I don’t know. I mean I tagged him out; I dropped the glove. I don’t know exactly the rule, but he ended up being safe. Can’t change that,” said Marks.

Rowan put together a comeback effort in the ninth inning, with Marks hitting a leadoff double and Ryan McIsaac scoring him with an RBI double a few at-bats later, but that was the last of the comeback and it wasn’t enough to keep Rowan alive. 

So Rowan’s bid for a World Series comes to an end, but they walk away from the season with an NJAC championship, a regional championship, and the team’s first World Series appearance since 2005, and those are accomplishments to be proud of, explained head coach, Mike Dickson.

“I think when we all sit down and assess the season, we’ll all be happy with it,” Dickson said. “I think it was a very good year, a great year. I think it laid the foundation for the future and where this program can go.”

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