From first pitch to last, the Fayetteville-Manlius baseball team's battle with Auburn in Saturday's Section III Class AA semifinal at Falcon Park bristled with excitement, tension and multiple momentum shifts.
Yet when it was all done, the no. 3 seed Hornets were unable to make it to the championship game, falling to the no. 2 seed Maroons by a score of 7-6.
They had met early in the season at Falcon Park - April 12, to be exact - and though Auburn won 3-2, the Hornets were not awed by the team, or the setting.
So when F-M returned nearly two months later, it absorbed Auburn's two-run outburst in the bottom of the first inning, then tied it in the second and used a run in the third to briefly seize a 3-2 lead.
And even when the Maroons reclaimed a 4-3 lead, F-M replied with a three-run fourth inning to move ahead again, 6-4. It knocked out pitcher Andrew Sanders with 10 hits, but, once more, the lead would not last.
Auburn, in its half of the fourth, used three straight hits to close the gap to 6-5 and send Jeremy Mapstone from the game. Ryan Brown relieved Mapstone, but Trevor Doan's single, combined with a throwing error, led to the tying and go-ahead runs.
Brown would keep the Maroons from scoring again, but Sanders' replacement, Chris Anderson, was even better. He allowed a fifth-inning single, then set down nine striaght F-M hitters in order, never letting the tying run get on base.
Mapstone, Pat McClure, Dan Maloney and Mike Palermo each had one RBI for the Hornets. Ben Whorall, Bryan Hill and Mike Perry (who tripled and scored two runs) joined McClure with two-hit outings. For Auburn, Doan and John Fiermonte each had two RBIs.
F-M finished with a record of 12-10 as Auburn advanced to its third straight sectional final (having lost title games in 2008 and '09) against Liverpool on Wednesday at Alliance Bank Stadium.