Jun 02, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
What is it about the Bishop Ludden baseball team, Alliance Bank Stadium, a Section III final, and an opponent called the Warriors, that wears blue, defending its crown, beating them with a title on the line?
What Westhill did in 2010, Whitesboro pulled off in 2011 as the latter group of Warriors came from behind to beat the top-seeded Gaelic Knights 8-6 in Wednesday night’s pulsating Class A final.
The motivations for both teams in this final ran deep. Ludden wanted atonement for 2010, but Whitesboro, who reached the state Class A semifinals one year ago, yearned to give retiring head coach Bill DeCoursey one more championship to celebrate.
Ryan O’Kane, starting on three days’ rest, began sharp, retiring the first seven batters he faced, four of them with strikeouts. And he was staked to a 2-0 lead as, in the bottom of the first inning, Chris Davis doubled home James Murray and Corey Hunter’s single in the second scored Jared Taylor.
Slowly, Whitesboro started to solve O’Kane in the top of the third, as with two on and two out Brandon Heitz’s single scored both runs to tie it, 2-2. Davis countered with his second run-scoring double in the bottom of the third, and Aaron Maher drew a bases-loaded walk.
The fourth inning proved a turning point. First, Whitesboro staged a second straight two-out rally as, with two on, Devin LeBuis lofted a double over the drawn-in outfield that scored both runs and tied it again, 4-4.
Casey Ganley and Murray got on base in the bottom of the fourth with no one out. At that moment, Evan Watson took over for starter Matt Engler, and the right-hander coaxed a groundout (that scored a run to put Ludden up 5-4) and two strikeouts to escape further trouble.
For the top of the fifth, Murray replaced O’Kane on the mound – and got rocked. A walk, single and error tied it, 5-5, and Engler’s RBI single gave Whitesboro its first lead of the night. Dan Cecilia and Dylan Gorski also got run-scoring singles to make it 8-5.
Finally, Murray settled down, blanking Whitesboro the rest of the way. But it was too late as Watson, with nine strikeouts in four innings of work, mowed down most hitters he faced, only threatened in the sixth when Ludden got a run and put the tying runs on base before Aaron Maher struck out.
The battle with Whitesboro capped a memorable run through the sectional tournament.
With the top seed, Ludden charged into the Class A tournament on May 26, dominating Mexico in the Class A quarterfinal as it tamed the Tigers 16-3.
Murray gave up a pair of first-inning runs, but Ludden countered with four runs in the bottom of the first to move ahead for good. The Gaelic Knights got away with back-to-back six-run rallies in the fourth and fifth innings.
Davis smashed a home run and finished with four RBIs. O’Kane and Ciro Frontale each had three hits, with Frontale getting two RBIs and Taylor earning three RBIs. Mike DePalma scored three runs as Murray went 5 1/3 innings for the win before Corey Hunter took over in relief.
Two days later, the Gaelic Knights encountered, in the Class A semifinal, no. 4 seed Vernon-Verona-Sherrill, who needed a late rally just to get past East Syracuse-Minoa 5-3 in the quarterfinals.
Perhaps glad to see the Red Devils instead of the Spartans (who had beaten them early in the regular season), Ludden moved on, getting another masterful effort from O’Kane in a 5-1 victory that put them in the title game.
O’Kane earned 10 strikeout and did not walk a single VVS batter, though he did give up six hits, one of them Jesse Whitmeyer’s solo home run in the seventh that broke up a possible shutout.
Ludden had knocked out Red Devils starter Josh Webb by the second inning, scoring once in the first and four more times in the bottom of the second. Davis doubled twice, scored twice and drove in two runs, while the red-hot Frontale added two hits and two RBIs of his own.
Having finished at 18-3, Ludden will now see seven seniors, including Murray, Davis, DePalma, Frontale, Maher, Hunter, Ganley and Mike Harrington, depart, a class that won 70 varsity games over three seasons.