Zack Tucker got quite a rough introduction to the Section III Class AA playoffs as the pitcher for the Fayetteville-Manlius baseball team in Thursday's Section III Class AA quarterfinal against West Genesee.
Tucker shook it off, though, and the no. 6 seed Hornets made a swift recovery to produce a 6-5 victory over the no. 3 seed Wildcats.
When these same two teams had met May 10 in Camillus, Tucker was sensational, throwing a one-hitter as a seventh-inning, two-out error led to the only run in F-M's one victory.
That boosted the Hornets' league record so that, despite an 11-9 overall mark, it would be home for its playoff rematch against the 13-6-1 Wildcats. Again, Tucker would pitch, with WG's Turner Parry on the other side.
Tucker nearly didn't make it out of the first inning, as the Wildcats tagged him for four runs, two of them coming home on Brian Burns' single.
F-M answered by hitting Parry hard with three runs in the bottom of the first and two more tallies in the second for a 5-4 lead. Pat McClure and Mike Palermo each drove in two runs, McClure with a triple, while Dan Maloney earned the other RBI. Mike Perry added two hits.
Burns' third RBI in the top of the sixth tied it, 5-5, but F-M again responded. Bryan Hill walked, reached second base, then raced home on Pat Kellogg's clutch single.
Tucker then got two outs in the seventh inning before Brooks Weigl recorded the final out for the save. All told, Tucker gave up nine hits and six walks, but struck out five.
On Saturday, F-M visits Falcon Park to face no. 2 seed Auburn in the Class AA semifinals. The winner faces Liverpool or Cicero-North Syracuse in Wednesday's title game at Alliance Bank Stadium.