Aug 01, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Whether it was a one-sided breeze or a dramatic late comeback, Onondaga’s 16-18 baseball All-Star team found different ways to succeed early in the Babe Ruth World Series, in Weimar, Texas, advancing out of the round-robin portion of the tournament and reaching the elimination rounds later this week.
As one of 10 teams in the tournament, Onondaga was placed in the American division with the host team from Texas Tri-Counties, along with Modesto (Calif.), Matthews Park (Ala.) and Bismarck (N.D.). The National division includes two more sides from Texas, plus Cape Cod (Mass.), Lansing (Ill.) and Port Angeles (Wash.).
Onondaga would play four games in a round-robin format within the American division. The top three finishers advanced to elimination play, with the first-place finishers sent to the semifinals and needing to win just twice more for the championship.
Unlike other sides that got to rest up after making it to Weimar, Onondaga was thrust right into the tournament opener against the hosts from Texas Tri-Counties on Friday night.
That wasn’t a problem, though, as Onondaga blanked TTC 8-0 behind a stellar effort from Le Moyne-bound pitching ace Ryan O’Kane. In six innings, O’Kane, a Bishop Ludden graduzate, allowed just three hits, striking out eight. He also had a double and two RBIs at the plate.
A run in the first inning got Onondaga going, but it tacked on two more runs in the third and broke it open with four runs in the fourth inning, all with two outs.
Leadoff hitter Nick Pilotti (Liverpool) had three hits, stole three bases and scored three runs. Fellow Liverpool alum Alex Caruso, like O’Kane, doubled and earned a pair of RBIs.
Easy as this game was, Saturday’s follow-up against Modesto proved far tougher, and Onondaga needed a stirring rally to pull out a 4-3 decision.
With a 1-0 lead through four innings (Chris Davis had driven in the lone run with an RBI triple), Onondaga’s shutout streak ended in the top of the fifth, when Modesto scored twice to move in front. Another run followed in the sixth.
Now trailing 3-1 and staring at a tough game against Matthews Park 24 hours later, Onondaga dug deep and, in the bottom of the sixth, got a runner on base before Gabe Levanti drilled a home run to tie it up, 3-3.
They were still even in the bottom of the seventh. With runners on second and third and two out, Eric Hamilton (Cicero-North Syracuse) drilled a single to right, scoring the decisive run.
After Andrew Sanders (Auburn) pitched 4 1/3 innings, both Ryan O’Neill and Joe Pokrentowski saw relief stints, and their work kept Onondaga close until its late rally.
The drama of this win took some pressure off Onondaga as it faced Matthews Park. Maybe that hurt the team’s play, as Matthews Park blanked Onondaga 4-0, a game that was close until the Alabama squad scored three times in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Scott Blewett (Baldwinsville) started and pitched 5 2/3 innings, staying calm in triple-digit heat before Matthews Park had its sixth-inning breakthrough. Davis managed a pair of hits.
Even with that defeat, Onondaga was 2-1 and got some well-timed rest on Monday before finishing pool play Tuesday against Bismarck – where it earned its second shutout victory of the tournament, prevailing 9-0.
Left-hander Zach Tucker, a Fayetteville-Manlius graduate also on his way to Le Moyne, frustrated Bismarck’s batters throughout the afternoon, giving up just one hit and piling up 15 strikeouts.
Levanti led Onondaga at the plate, going four-for-four and driving in a run, while Frontale had a three-for-three afternoon that also included an RBI.
That concluded round-robin play, with Onondaga waiting to see whether it went straight into the semifinals on Friday or would need to play an extra round a day earlier.