A mid-game hitting outburst leaves the North Syracuse's 13-15 Baseball All-Stars a single victory away from the championship of the Babe Ruth World Series in Monticello, Ark.
In Thursday night's tournament semifinal against Greenville (N.C), North Syracuse was in some danger until the fourth inning turned things around and led to an 11-3 victory.
This means that North Syracuse will square off with Saginaw Valley (Mich.) in the final Friday night at 6 p.m. Saginaw Valley beat the lone remaining Arkansas entry, from Bryant, 8-2 in the first semifinal.
After going 4-0 in division play from Aug. 19 to 23, North Syracuse got two days of rest. During that time, the heat wave that had marked the early play (temperatures of 100 degrees or higher) dissipated, leaving more pleasant conditions for the elimination rounds.
With Dan Brower getting the pitching assignment for the semifinal against Greenville's Jarrett Ozimek, North Syracuse seized a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
But Greenville countered with a three-run outburst in the top of the third to move in front. Two walks, an error and an infield hit produced Greenville's trio of tallies as Brower labored through 33 pitches.
It was still 3-1 going to the bottom of the fourth when, as it has done so many times this summer, North Syracuse dramatically turned events in its own favor.
Nick Pilotti led off the fourth with a double, and Pat Wright reached base on an error. Ryan O'Kane moved both runners by laying down a sacrifice bunt, and Eric Hamilton followed with a two-run double that tied it, 3-3.
Up next, Brett Charbonneau got hit, bringing up Joe Budnar, whose single allowed Hamilton to score the go-ahead run. Then Matt DiPaolo beat out an infield hit, loading the bases for Gabe Levanti, who drew a walk to make it 5-3.