A summer-long baseball odyssey by North Syracuse's 13-15 All-Star team has resulted in the highest honor possible - the championship of the Babe Ruth World Series.
And it was won in dramatic style during Friday night's championship game in Monticello, Ark. Completing a perfect 6-0 run through the tournament, North Syracuse rallied in the seventh and final inning to beat Saginaw Valley, from Michigan, by a score of 7-4.
Not since 2003, when Onondaga took the 16-year-old World Series title, has a Syracuse-area team won a Babe Ruth national championship. Thanks to one big, timely swing from Nick Pilotti, that seven-year drought would end.
Entering the top of the seventh in Friday's final, North Syracuse trailed Saginaw Valley 4-3, just three outs from seeing its three-year quest for a national title fall short one last time.
Prior to this, 10 of the players on North Syracuse had participated in Babe Ruth World Series in 2008 (in Jamestown) and 2009 (in Appleton, Wisc.), and had not won on either of those occasions. North Syracuse was determined not to endure the same sad ending here.
Leading off the seventh, Alex Caruso drew a walk. When Gabe Levanti followed with a single, Saginaw Valley took out starting pitcher Luke Scharich, replacing him with A.J. McInnis.
Up stepped Pilotti. With the tying and go-ahead runs on base and nobody out, Pilotti intended to follow traditional baseball strategy and bunt to move Caruso and Levanti into scoring position.
But after a called strike and a foul ball, Pilotti got a chance to swing away. McInnis obliged with a curveball, just what Pilotti was looking for - and he drilled it over the center-field fence for what prove to be a World Series-winning three-run home run.
Now up 6-4, North Syracuse tacked on one more run before Ryan O'Kane returned to the mound, where he had been from the start. Blanking Saginaw in the bottom of the seventh, O'Kane clinched the title.