Baseball Warriors hang on, reach state final four again

Some of sports' beauty is that whatever is expected tends not to happen when the games actually start.

For instance, the Westhill baseball team was supposed to roll over, or perhaps barely edge, archrival Bishop Ludden in the Section III Class B final on June 2. Instead, it won in a 10-2 romp.

Conversely, the Warriors were a heavy favorite in Monday night's Class B regional final against Section IV champion Windsor at Rome's DeLutis Field, but had to hang on in a strange seventh inning to beat the Black Knights 4-3.

However the methods, the result was the same - a return for Westhill to the state final four, played Saturday at NYSEG Stadium in Binghamton, as it is two wins away from back-to-back state titles.

For the third straight playoff game, Kevin McAvoy took the mound for the Warriors, but had some early trouble. Windsor got on the board in the top of the first inning as Nick Benson singled, moved to second on a grounder, then raced home on Dave Goetz's double.

Westhill answered with a three-run outburst in the bottom of the first, ignited by Dan Karleski's walk. A walk and fielder's choice later, McAvoy smacked an RBI single to tie it, 1-1.

McAvoy and Nathan Nigolian both moved up on a double steal, and a bad thrown brought Nigolian home with the go-ahead run before Mike Fagan singled to score McAvoy.

Now up 3-1, the Warriors tacked on what proved to be an important run in the bottom of the second when Len Graf doubled and stole third before Karleski singled again to plate Graf.

McAvoy maintained that three-run lead over the next four innings, twice escaping trouble as Windsor put two runners on in the fourth and loaded the bases in the sixth, but could not score either time.

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