North Syracuse rides hot streak to Babe Ruth final

From start to finish, the Babe Ruth Mid-Atlantic Regional baseball tournament, featuring 10 teams from five different states, had twists and turns and plenty of excitement.

And North Syracuse was right in the middle of it, overcoming an extra-inning defeat at the start to win four straight times and reach Tuesday's championship game against Nottingham, from central New Jersey.

All told, 10 teams participated in the tournament -- five from across the state, plus entries from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.

For its Thursday-night opener at the Gillette Road complex, North Syracuse faced Nottingham (N.J.), a team that had won both the 13 and 14-year-old Babe Ruth divisions in 2006 and '07 -- both times, stopping North Syracuse in the finals.

Here, the two sides combined for a tense, terrific game where North Syracuse fell behind, 3-1, only to tie it with a pair of third-inning runs. From there, Dave Campese blanked Nottingham for the rest of regulation, but Nottingham matched those zeroes and kept it even at 3-3.

Neither team committed a defensive error until the bottom of the eighth inning, when a wild throw at shortstop put North Syracuse in trouble. With a runner still on second base and two out, Nottingham's Andrew Immordino singled to right and the winning run scored.

The 4-3 defeat forced North Syracuse into a bind. It would now have to win its remaining three games, two of them on a single day, if it wanted to continue.

On Saturday morning, before the rains hit at North Syracuse Junior High, North Syracuse ripped Larchmont-Mamaroneck (Westchester County) 11-2, improving to 1-1. It took charge with seven runs in the first two innings. Shawn Peake had a home run, double and four RBIs as Matt O'Kipney got the win on the mound.

Now came the Sunday doubleheader. To this point, three teams (Valley, South Colonie and Lou Gehrig) had played twin bills, and each of them had lost the second game. North Syracuse had to avoid that fate if it wanted to keep it championship hopes alive.

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