Jun 14, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Westhill’s Mike DeCarr stood on the pitcher’s mound, frozen for just a moment as the fastball he threw made it past Sean LaFaye for one final strikeout early Saturday evening at Binghamton’s Conlon Field.
Then, with the work done, DeCarr was mobbed by his teammates, all of them now crowned as the state Class B baseball champions. Given all they had done to reach this point, it seemed like the only appropriate ending.
The Warriors’ 8-1 conquest of Dobbs Ferry was the team’s 28th consecutive victory, a school record. And that streak included a perfect run through the OHSL Liberty division, a 48-14 romp over seven post-season opponents and some big moments along the way.
There was Mike Mascari hitting for the cycle against Bishop Ludden on May 2. There was DeCarr pulling off a two-run sacrifice fly in the Section III final against Skaneateles, and Mascari stealing home moments later.
At the plate, the likes of Mascari, Mike McMullen and Nate Nigolian led an explosive attack where double-digit runs were common and the team hit .383 overall. On the mound, Ryan Malley and Pat Lemmo made for a strong pair of aces, but it was sophomore Jack Ganley that threw a perfect game against Jamesville-DeWitt on May 22.
Given all this, it only made sense that Westhill would get to the final in an exciting way — and that DeCarr, such an integral part of the Warrior program for so long, would be at the center of it all.
In Saturday’s state Class B semifinal against Fredonia (Section VI), the Warriors found itself shut down by Hillbillies pitcher Corey King and trailed, 2-0, going to the top of the seventh.
Three outs from elimination, Westhill’s offense arrived, as two runners got on base before Mascari delivered a single, cutting the margin to 2-1.
With DeCarr at the plate, Fredonia switched pitchers, Chris DiRusso replacing King. DeCarr worked the count full, then saw a high fastball he liked and crushed it — all the way over the center-field fence.
Instantly, what had been possible defeat turned instead into a lead Westhill would hold in the bottom of the seventh to prevail, 4-2, and advance to the final against Dobbs Ferry, who beat Beekmantown in the other semifinal.
Still sizzling after his game-winner against Fredonia, DeCarr came up with two on and one out in the bottom of the first inning and hit another three-run shot over the fence, immediately putting the Warriors in control.
It didn’t stop there, either. Malley contributed a two-run home run in the third inning as part of a four-run outburst that made it 7-0, and Mascari’s solo shot in the bottom the sixth added a proper exclamation point.
Meanwhile, Lemmo, who had gone four innings against Fredonia, returned to the mound for a five-inning effort that netted him the win. He had 14 total strikeouts during that time.
As he had done in both the sectional and regional finals, DeCarr took his turn in relief in the sixth inning, and he blanked Dobbs Ferry the rest of the way.
This offered the perfect end to the high school careers of seniors like DeCarr, Mascari, Lemmo, Malley, catcher David Grace, Nick Downs, Dan Manzano and Tim O’Sullivan.
As they depart, stars like McMullen, Nigolian, Schmidt, Ganley, Dan Karleski, Jake Rush and Len Graf remain, all of them determined to produce another championship run in 2010.