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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

SUNY Bats Off to Beat Local Cream

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Take a New York college baseball team and the Russian national team and, surprisingly, the result was a game that went to the wire.

State University of New York College at Cortland, or SUNY, beat the Russian national team 7-5 in an exciting game at Moscow State University's Baseball Stadium on Thursday.

With rain spitting down on the players and the 100 or so spectators, the game came down to a thrilling finish as Russia clawed two runs back from being 7-3 down in the ninth. With a man on both second and third bases, the Russians were looking for a home run to clinch victory.

The SUNY team is one of the top college teams in the United States at the Division III level. SUNY has come fifth in the NCAA national championships for the last two years.

"They're not a bad team," said Russia coach Nikolai Gervasov, "But their level is weaker than the national team."

Gervasov, whose side came fourth in the European Championships and had just returned from winning a tournament in Belgium, blamed fatigue and careless mistakes for the defeat.

"It was a super experience," said SUNY coach Joe Brown. "It opened our eyes."

Brown said his players seemed a bit intimidated at first when they saw Russia on the uniforms of the other team, but soon started to have fun.

"Some of our kids haven't been out of New York," he explained.

"We expected to win," said SUNY's Ed Firlo, who hit the only home run of the game in the second inning. A home run said to be the first one hit from the stadium with a wooden bat.

Balls seemed to be short on the ground with the American catcher having to ask for the ball back from the crowd at one point.

SUNY stayed out in front for the whole match, which was balanced at 2-1 until the seventh inning when five runs and five hits put SUNY 7-1 up. The Russians moved to 7-2 in the eighth, before their final charge in the ninth came up short.

After the game, there was no ball shortage as a rush of kids ran to Firlo asking him for a signed momento. One player suggested he sign Sammy Sosa.

The tour, which included a baseball clinic for 30 children just before the game, is part of an exchange between MGU and SUNY that will see a new Center for United States and Russia open Friday. SUNY will also play two games in St. Petersburg before the team returns home June 18.

SUNY next plays the Moscow State University Tornadoes on Friday at 10:30 am. at the MGU Baseball stadium, Metro Universitet. Admission is free.