Following a steady improvement in 2007, the Chittenango baseball team wants to take the short step toward elite status in the Class A and OHSL Freedom division ranks.
And the Bears passed the initial test last Monday at Button Field, relying on a combination of strong arms and clutch bats to beat Cortland 1-0.
For seven innings, Chittenango pitcher Jon Stevens completely shut down the Purple Tigers, holding them to just two hits. Meanwhile, the Bears constantly put runners on base, only to see Cortland hurler Steve Wright escape those jams.
So it remained 0-0 until the bottom of the seventh. There, Chittennago put Adam Baidel on base and brought pinch-hitter Ryan McGinnis to the plate. McGinnis came through, singling off Wright to bring Baidel home with the decisive run.
Just 24 hours later, Mexico came to Button Field and it proved to be even more dramatic, as the Bears used two different comebacks to stun the Tigers 8-7.
Staring at a 4-1 deficit, Chittenango erased it with three runs in the bottom of the fourth, but that was just a prelude to the wild seventh inning.
Mexico appeared to reclaim possession of the game when it got three runs off Dustin Jones, who had done a long stint in relief of Corey Skurpski, and took a 7-4 lead.
However, the Bears got its own licks in the bottom of the seventh, getting two runs to make it 7-6, then tying it on Baidel's triple, which gave him three RBIs for the day.
And when Kody O'Connor (who hit a solo home run earlier in the game) uncorked a wild pitch, Baidel raced home and scored the winning run for the second day in a row.
Giving Baidel some help at the plate, Shaun Skurpski, Shaun St. Onge, Pat McGinnis and Andy Moth all drove in single runs. Mexico's defense helped out, too, committing six errors, though the Bears made three errors of its own.