Rarely has anyone walked away from a split of games as pleased as the Fayetteville-Manlius baseball team did at the end of Saturday's John Ilacqua Jr. Memorial Tournament at the Gillette Road complex in Cicero.
That was because the Hornets' victory was a big one, as it toppled host Cicero-North Syracuse 6-4 in 10 innings, avenging a 3-1 defeat to the Northstars back on April 15 - and further gaining confidence with the Section III Class AA playoffs just a week away.
Already it had been a good week for F-M. Brooks Weigl had pitched the Hornets to a 4-1 victory over West Genesee at home on Tuesday afternoon, and it had stomped past Nottingham 22-0 a day before dealing with CNS, Bryan Hill and Pat McClure both driving in four runs to lead a 20-hit attack as Jeremy Mapstone, Seth Braddock and Jeremy Kidd combining on a one-hitter.
For a long while, despite the terrific pitching of Zach Tucker, it looked like CNS would get the Hornets for the second time in as many months. Northstars pitching ace Joe Pokrentowski retired 16 F-M batters in a row and kept it 0-0 until the bottom of the sixth, when the Northstars moved in front.
Eric Hamilton led off the sixth with a double, and Tucker threw the ensuing sacrifice bunt to third, putting two runners on base. Moments later, a wild pitch scored Hamilton, and Mark Sherlock's line shot glanced off a diving Mapstone's glove to make it 2-0.
Yet F-M would not surrender, rallying in the top of the seventh off a pair of CNS mistakes. First, a throwing error put Mike Palermo on first base. After Mike Perry moved Palermo over with a sacrifice bunt, CNS chose to intentionally walk McClure, despite the fact that he was the tying run.