With only six outs remaining, the West Genesee baseball team stood poised to end three decades without a Section III championship.
Everything was ideal in last Tuesday night's Class AA final at DeLutis Field in Rome. The Wildcats enjoyed a 2-0 lead over Utica Proctor going into the bottom of the sixth inning and had its senior ace, Casey McIntosh, on the mound, ready to put things away.
The Raiders never let them get those last six outs, though. A sixth-inning rally tied it, and Jason Simone's bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh led to a 3-2 Wildcat defeat as Proctor earned its first sectional title since 2001.
Win or lose, though, WG had been part of a memorable game that climaxed an incredible post-season run that included McIntosh's perfect game against Central Square and the subsequent toppling of top seed Cicero-North Syracuse in the semifinal round.
Somehow, the title game managed to be even more exciting -- even if the result was not what long-suffering Wildcat baseball fans wanted.
Casey Reale was the second batter of the game. On a 3-2 pitch, he ripped an A.J. Bates fastball well over the left-field fence, the home run sending WG's large fan contingent (some students even painted their chests with uniform numbers of the players) into an even louder frenzy.
Staked to a quick 1-0 lead, McIntosh gave up an infield hit to the first Proctor batter he faced, so perfection was out of the question. He still was spectacular, though, in the bottom of the first, as the senior right-hander picked off two Proctor runners who reached base.
Over the next four innings, the pitchers would continue to rule. Bates settled down from Reale's moon shot and allowed just two hits over that span, while McIntosh allowed three more singles, yet constantly used his mix of speeds to escape possible trouble, piling up eight strikeouts by the end of the fifth inning.