From its spot as a top seed, the Christian Brothers Academy baseball team had a chance to earn another Section III title, this time at the Class A level after going to the state Class B semifinals a season ago.
Yet the Brothers came within two outs of early elimination before a single, memorable swing from Anthony Cirillo saved them in a 4-3 win over Whitesboro in Thursday's Class A quarterfinals.
They were 0-0 until the fifth inning, as CBA's Mike Kitts and Whitesboro's Matt Engler controlled matters from the mound.
Then the Warriors poked across a run in the top of the fifth and scored twice in the top of the sixth. Only Kitts feeding Shaun McGraw for a tag at home to thwart a squeeze play kept the deficit from growing.
Still, it was 3-0 going to the bottom of the seventh. CBA, down to its final three outs, quickly loaded the bases with nobody out, and Whitesboro started warming up relief pitchers in case Engler got into more trouble.
But Engler struck out Chris Folsom, bringing Cirillo, a pinch-hitter celebrating his birthday, to the plate. Cirillo promptly saw a pitch he liked -- and belted it over the left-field fence, a grand slam that won the game.
It marked the second time in as many weeks CBA won a game with a seventh-inning home run, Bryant Moore having done the same to Jamesville-DeWitt on May 21.
Whitesboro was only here because, two days earlier, it had beaten no. 8 seed East Syracuse-Minoa in the first round, an 8-3 decision that brought a premature end to the Spartans' season.
Though Brandon Lansing pitched, he didn't get much help. He kept ESM in the game, but it still trailed, 2-0, when Whitesboro made its decisive move by scoring three times in the top of the fifth inning, making it 5-0.
Neil Delaney relieved Lansing, and he also got hit for three runs in the seventh inning as the Warriors got away. James Russo drove in two runs and Nick Eisenbeck added an RBI in the late going, but it was not enough.