For the Westhill baseball team to be successful in its defense of the Section III Class B championship, it might have to climb over neighbor and rival Marcellus before a dream final with Bishop Ludden could even be considered.
Both sides are in line for a semifinal clash in the wake of Tuesday's opening-round games. Westhill, the no. 2 seed, cruised past no. 15 seed Clinton 13-3, while Marcellus, the no. 6 seed, blasted no. 11 seed South Jefferson 20-6.
Leaving little doubt that it was ready for the post-season heat, the Mustangs jumped on the Spartans with five runs in the first inning and eight more runs in the bottom of the second.
It was 14-0 before South Jefferson finally got on the board in the fourth, but by then the Mustangs had all it needed while piling up 21 hits.
Phil Zdanowski reached base six times with a home run, triple, two singles and two walks, scoring three runs as he finished with three RBIs. Zach Amidon's grand slam drove in four runs, while Taylor Vile had two hits and three RBIs.
Nick Sinay had three doubles and scored four times, while Jordan Smith had three hits and three runs scored. Mike Sniffen and Adam Breuer each had two hits. Tim Schneider pitched four innings to earn the win, with Amidon and Breuer seeing relief duty.
Meanwhile, Westhill met its fellow Warriors from Clinton and used steady offensive production to cruise through its playoff opener.
Westhill got at least one run in each of its six turns at the plate, capped off by a five-run fifth inning, in support of pitcher Kevin McAvoy, who went 5 1/3 innings for the win.
Dan Karleski supplied power with a first-inning home run, triple and four RBIs as he scored three runs. Greg Schmidt, Len Graf and Jake Rush each scored twice, with Nathan Nigolian adding two hits and and RBI. Mark Syron's double drove in two runs as Mike McMullen, Mike Fagan and Cory Hewitt earned one RBI apiece.
By contrast, Solvay, the no. 10 seed, could not make it out of the opening round Tuesday, taking a 14-7 loss to no. 7 seed Adirondack in Boonville. The Bearcats finished with an overall record of 9-12.
By winning that, Adirdonack advanced to play Westhill in Thursday's Class B quarterfinals, just as Marcellus visits no. 3 seed Ilion, who topped Holland Patent 4-2 in the opening round.