May 29, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
This is, quite simply, how it must end – and for someone in the ever-growing baseball rivalry between Bishop Ludden and Westhill, it will end Wednesday night at Alliance Bank Stadium in the Section III Class B championship game.
Either the Gaelic Knights’ undefeated season and its run as the state’s no. 1-ranked team will crash down, or the Warriors’ reign as state champions will cease.
Whatever happens, though, there is little question that Ludden and Westhill have risen above the rest of the Class B playoff field, and Saturday’s sectional semifinal games were no exception.
Domination on the mound helped the Gaelic Knights fight off Utica-Notre Dame 3-0, while the Warriors again relied on its potent bats to deliver a 13-2 victory over Ilion.
Ludden had played Utica-Notre Dame just seven days earlier, in the May 22 regular-season finale. But the 14-0 romp on that day gave no indication of how tough the playoff rematch would be, especially since the no. 12 seed Jugglers were confident after road playoff wins over Skaneateles and Canastota.
James Murray got the start, and for five innings he shut UND down, only allowing two hits and two walks while striking out six. Then Ryan O’Kane took over in the sixth and closed things out, giving up a single hit and recording a pair of strikeouts.
Ludden got on the board with two runs in the bottom of the third inning, then added an insurance run in the sixth. John Rooney (who had two hits), Chris Davis and Mike DePalma each had one RBI as Murray, Davis and Aaron Maher scored those runs.
Westhill got a lot more than three runs against Ilion, the no. 3 seed – in fact, it had that number by the second inning.
Already up 1-0, the Warriors pulled away from the Golden Bombers by batting around in the bottom of the second and plating six runs. And it didn’t end there, as Westhill tacked on two runs in the third and three runs in the fifth.
By doing so, the Warriors reached double digits for the third consecutive playoff game, having dropped 13 runs on Clinton and 19 on Adirondack in previous rounds.
Mike Fagan hit the game’s only home run, earning three RBIs as Mike McMullen, Nathan Nigolian, Mark Syron and Dan Lowery drove in two runs apiece.
Dan Karleski, fresh off hitting for the cycle against Adirondack, walked three times and scored three runs, with Greg Schmidt also scoring three times.
Kevin McAvoy, who scored twice, pitched five solid innings to earn the win, limiting Ilion to two hits and accumulating eight strikeouts. Karleski and Nick Vitagliano each saw relief stints, as both of the Golden Bombers’ runs came in the sixth inning.
Of course, Westhill met Ludden twice in a memorable 72-hour span in the middle of the season.
On April 30 at Alliance Bank Stadium, the Gaelic Knights appeared to put the game away with a big seventh inning, only to have Westhill nearly come all the way back. Ludden won, 11-9, in a game initially protested by the Warriors, then rescinded the next day.
The rematch came just three days later, at Ludden, where Murray was masterful in shutting down the Warriors 3-1. As it turned out, the Gaelic Knights will need to beat Westhill one more time, with a season on the line.