Jul 23, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
If it’s the end of July and the start of August, then the North Syracuse Babe Ruth All-Stars must be going ino the Middle Atlantic Regional Tournament.
For the third year in a row, a group of players from all around the area, from Central Square to Chittenango, are New York State champion and will try to win the regional title in their 13-15 age group under the North Syracuse banner.
But this time North Syracuse will have the extra edge, getting the benefit of home-field advantage at North Syracuse Junior High School on Taft Road and the Gilette Road Middle School in the 10-team tournament.
The winner advances to the 13-15 Babe Ruth World Series, to be held in Van Buren, Ark., from Aug. 15 to 22.
Play begins this Thursday, at both facilities in two pools of five teams each, and will continue until all teams have competed four games of round-robin before semifinals and the title game on Aug. 5.
Coached by Mike Pirro, Paul Gangemi and Dan Parson, North Syracuse features 14 players, nine of which have been around for all three of North Syracuse’s state championship runs.
In 2006, the reign began with a state title before it went to Bayonne, N.J., for the Mid-Atlantic regional and lost close contests to Council Rock (Pa.) and Maryland and did not reach the finals.
A year later, North Syracuse won the state tournament in Ithaca, then returned to New Jersey, this time for a Mid-Atlantic regional in Goldsboro. After finishing second in pool play and winning in the semifinals over Manalapan, North Syracuse fell in the title game in an 8-3 decision to Nottingham (N.J.) and again saw someone else reach the national finals.
Dan Parsons (Liverpool) remembers that final against Nottingham. He said a couple of early hits by North Syracuse with runners on base might have turned things in their favor, and that getting those kind of hits now might produce a title.
Parsons’ teammate, Shawn Peake (Liverpool), said the home-field advantage is a huge asset. He added that players can stay in their own homes, eat family meals instead of going to a hotel and, in the case of the previous two years in New Jersey, avoid a two-hour ride to the game in the middle of rush hour traffic.
As with ’07, this year’s state tournament took part in Ithaca, and North Syracuse dominated from start to finish.
It began with a 3-0 shutout of Jamestown where Dave Campese (Bishop Grimes) pitched a one-hitter with eight strikeouts. North Syracuse then beat Valley, from Syracuse, 9-4 as Peake smashed four RBIs in support of Matt O’Kipney (Chittenango), who won on the mound.
Then came a pair of classics against the “Lou Gehrig” team from Buffalo that decided the tournament. In the first, North Syracuse needed three runs in the top of the seventh inning to come back and beat Gehrig 11-10. Parsons had the game-tying RBI and Riley Noonan’s fly ball scored the game-winner.
The final was another one-run affair — and another victory, this one 6-5. Matt Pirro (Bishop Ludden) pitched most of the way, with Andrew Scheryak (Liverpool) taking over late. Parsons picked up three hits as Noonan again earned the game-winning RBI. Andrew Schreyack, who got the save in the first Gehrig game, scored the decisive run.
In the Mid-Atlantic Regional, teams from Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, metropolitan New York City, plus Eastern and Western New York, are taking part. And Valley, from Syracuse, fills out the field.
All that tournament experience from years past, said Parsons, will help North Syracuse handle his pressure situation of playing at home.
“We have great chemistry,” he said. “Without that, it’s hard to win games.”