With their respective seasons on the line, the stage was set for another epic battle between top-seeded Bishop Ludden and second-seeded Westhill in the Section III Class B baseball final Wednesday night at Alliance Bank Stadium.
Bishop Ludden came into the title game ranked first in the state and had yet to taste defeat in 21 games this season. Westhill was riding an 11-game win streak and had no intention of giving up its sectional crown without a fight.
But the anticipated showdown between the top two teams in Class B turned into a lopsided win by Westhill, 10-2, in the title game. Not only did the 15th-ranked Warriors repeat as champs, they also avenged two regular season losses to the Gaelic Knights.
The Warriors (18-5) advanced to the state playoffs and will begin defense of their state title against the Section II champion 7 p.m. Monday at DeLutis Field in Rome. Bishop Ludden finished the year at 21-1.
Westhill showed no fear in the first inning against hard-throwing Ludden ace Matt Pirro, who came into the game 8-0 with a microscopic 0.55 ERA.
A walk and an error put runners on first and second and those runners advanced on a ground out. Then Cory Hewitt delivered a two-run single to put the Warriors up 2-0.
The Warriors manufactured another run in the top of the third. Greg Schmidt, the ninth hitter, led off with a single. Dan Karleski followed with a single of his own into the hole at short. A wild pitch moved both runners to second and third with one out. Schmidt scored on a ground ball to short for a 3-0 Westhill lead.
Bishop Ludden, which efficiently produced runs all season long, failed to get its offense going against Westhill starter Kevin McAvoy.
McAvoy set the tone early by stranding runners on first and second with a strikeout in the bottom of the first. In the second, Pirro poked a one-out double to right but the Gaelic Knights couldn't drive him in. McAvoy also struck out the side in the third.