Move deeper into the baseball post-season, and every pitch and every decision gets magnified because any one of them could decide a season's fate.
Such was the case for the Baldwinsville baseball team as it took on Fayetteville-Manlius in Friday afternoon's Section III Class AA quarterfinal, a game within the Bees' reach before a couple of pitches led to a 5-2 loss to the Hornets.
Mike St. John pitched for B'ville against F-M's left-handed ace, Zach Tucker, in a game pushed back one day by bad weather. St. John escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first inning with a double play, and it remained 0-0 until the bottom of the third inning.
A dropped fly ball and throwing error allowed Mike Mintskovsky to score, and F-M tacked on another run to make it 2-0, but the Bees would have a ready answer in the fourth.
With one out, both Connor Martin and Pat Merryweather walked, and Dan Wright singled home Martin with his team's first hit. Kyle Lattanzio's RBI single tied it, 2-2, but Tucker escaped further trouble with a double play.
All this led to the fifth, and the decisive moment. With one out, Gabe Levanti walked, and Brett Charbonneau reached base on a dropped force play. Both moved up a base on a double steal, and F-M now gambled, intentionally walking Dan Dubiel to load the bases for Martin, the cleanup hitter.
Martin hit the ball hard - but right at third base. The throw came home to force Levanti, and Pat McClure, F-M's catcher, fired to first to complete a rare 5-2-3 double play and keep the game tied.
But it didn't stay 2-2 for long. A single, sacrifice bunt, wild pitch and walk left two men on for McClure, who crushed a St. John offering deep over the right-field fence for a three-run home run that put the Hornets ahead.
From there, the Bees could not get anything against Tucker, who retired the last six batters he faced, five of them with strikeouts.
F-M went on to lose the AA semifinal to Cicero-North Syracuse, while B'ville pondered a bright future. In 2012, Levanti, Charbonneau, Merryweather, Martin, Shay Sargent, Terry Engels, Scott Orr and Josh Savacool could all come back, giving the Bees a reason to think it could play a lot deeper into next year's post-season.