Jun 01, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Twice before this spring, the Bishop Ludden baseball team seemed to have the Westhill Warriors figured out — until a big inning tipped the scales in the Warriors’ favor.
But not a third time. And not with a Section III Class B championship on the line.
A trio of front-line Gaelic Knights pitchers combined to keep Westhill’s potent lineup in check last Thursday at Rome’s DeLutis Field, leading to a 2-1 Ludden victory.
This made it back-to-back sectional titles for Ludden, and the second championship was even sweeter than the first, for it came at the expense of their closest neighbor and biggest league rival.
And it capped a month of big meetings between the two schools. On May 1, Westhill used a two-out, six-run rally in the fifth inning to back up Mike DeCarr’s one-hitter and beat Ludden 6-1. Two weeks later, the Warriors prevailed again, 5-2, this time going out in front early, 4-0, and again riding DeCarr’s strong right arm to victory.
Yet for this third, and most important, showdown between the Warriors and Gaelic Knights, DeCarr would not be pitching, since he had gone six innings to beat Marcellus in the Class B-1 final three days earlier.
Instead, left-hander Tom Piscitell would oppose Ludden’s senior ace, Terry McFadden, who had pitched the second game against the Warriors and was a proven big-game ace.
Immediately, McFadden got into trouble. Mike Mascari led off the bottom of the first inning with a walk, and Rich Hevier walked, too. A wild pitch put both runners in scoring position with one out.
Gambling a bit, Ludden intentionally walked slugger P.J. Niedzwiecki to load the bases. That gamble paid off when McFadden coaxed John Carbone to pop out, then struck out Piscitell to end the inning.
Fired up by this turn of events, Ludden would get both of its runs in the top of the second. McFadden and Michael Kogut both singled and, after McFadden stole third, Mike Sisson drove him home with another single.
Kogut, who went to third base on that hit, then watched Sisson get caught between first and second base in a rundown. Taking off for home, Kogut slid in safe, and Ludden led 2-0.
Piscitell left the mound in the third inning, replaced by Ryan Malley. Thanks to Malley’s five solid inning of relief, the Gaelic Knights couldn’t add to the lead and had three runners thrown out at various stages.
McFadden would keep Ludden in front. He only cracked in the fourth inning, when Carbone singled, Malley walked, and a bunt and groundout allowed Carbone to score his team’s only run.
Taking no chances, Gaelic Knights head coach Ted Klamm brought in freshman John Rooney (who shut out Mount Markham in the Class B quarterfinals a week earlier) to pitch the fifth inning against the top of Westhill’s order.
On his first pitch, Rooney watched Mike Mascari belt a triple to the wall. With three chances to bring the tying run home, the Warriors could not pull it off, as DeCarr popped out, Rich Hevier looked at strike three and, after another intentional pass to Niedzwiecki, Carbone popped out.
Rooney also got out of a sixth-inning jam, and his mound work was done. In the bottom of the seventh, Klamm went to Ryan Poplawski, the lefty that threw a complete game against Canastota in the B-2 final and was working on just two days’ rest.
Unfazed, Poplawski (who injured his spleen earlier in the month and came back much sooner than anyone expected) retired Mascari, DeCarr and Hevier in order, giving Ludden the Class B crown again.
On Monday, the Gaelic Knights played in the Class B regional finals at Union-Endicott High School near Binghamton. A win there would bring Ludden back to the Southern Tier for Saturday’s state final four, to be held at Chenango Valley High School.