Should the Fayetteville-Manlius baseball team capture the CNY Counties League National division regular-season title, it may have a left-handed sophomore pitcher to thank for it.
Zack Tucker offered the finest performance of his varsity career on a chilly Monday afternoon at West Genesee - and, with a bit of good fortune, beat the Wildcats 1-0.
Entering the week, F-M, at 6-1 in the league, shared first place with Auburn. WG was a game back, poised to move to the top if it could beat the Hornets.
And the Wildcats had its ace, Turner Parry, on the hill, so Tucker knew he had to be in top form. And he was.
In his seven innings of work, Tucker allowed just one hit and four walks, striking out 11 and gaining confidence with each trip to the mound.
By far, Tucker's biggest crisis came in the bottom of the second. With two out, Josh Phillips and Nick Woytan walked, and Matt Naton reached base on a slow grounder, loading the bases. This brought up Greg Wadach, WG's leadoff hitter. On the first pitch he saw, Wadach popped out.
In the sixth, WG threatened again as Justin Capella led off with a walk. But Tucker struck out Erik Krohl, then got more help when the Hornets threw out pinch-runner Joe Dusart trying to steal second, quashing another threat.
So it was 0-0 going to the seventh. To this point, F-M's best chance had come in the fifth when, with a runner on first and two out, Louis Testone hit a deep drive to left field, only to see Spencer run it down and catch it.
Leading off the seventh, Mike Perry, the Hornets' other sophomore star, singled. Perry reached second on a stolen base and, after Pat McClure popped out, went to third base on a groundout.