Liverpool Onondaga West had high expectations entering the 2012 Senior Babe Ruth Mid- Atlantic Regional Tournament. They won the tournament last year, and with 11 college players on their roster, they boast more experience than any other team in the competition. Anything less than a finals birth likely would be a disappointment.
As for their younger Onondaga East counterparts, reaching the finals seemed like a far-fetched dream.
“If you would have told me we’d win five games in three days,” Onondaga East head coach Mike Meola said, “I would’ve asked you to be checked out here.”
But that’s exactly what Onondaga East did, winning two games Saturday to reach the finals where they’ll meet Onondaga West for a chance to play in the Babe Ruth World Series in Texas.
The East All-Stars rallied in the seventh inning of their first game to beat Pennsylvania champion Pine Forge 4-3, and followed that up with a 9-6 victory over Northern New Jersey champs Iron Area to earn a birth in the championship.
“We never thought we could make the finals,” said Corcoran High School’s Hector Santa. “We were just trying to win and play day by day. It’s a great experience to make it to the finals.”
After overcoming a three-run deficit on their final out Friday to knock off Maryland champion Winfield Baseball, Onondaga East turned to a last second comeback again in their first game Saturday.
Trailing Pine Forge 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh, catcher Justin Teague started the rally with a one-out single. Justin Mathers came on to pinch run and stole second base, allowing Cicero North-Syracuse’s Paul Ludden to tie the game with an RBI single.
Shortstop Bailey Gauthier then moved Ludden to second with a sacrifice bunt, setting the stage for Santa. The pitcher ripped a lined drive to the gap in right-centerfield to deliver Onondaga East’s second consecutive walk-off win.