Ludden baseball stopped by Whitesboro in Class A final

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.

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