Jul 16, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
With college-age talent, home-field advantage and experience on its side, the Onondaga West baseball team expected to win the Babe Ruth Mid-Atlantic Regional.
And it did so, but only after a tense championship game on Sunday at Hopkins Road Park in Liverpool where upstart Onondaga East, featuring only high school-age players, tried to continue its improbable run from the loser’s bracket, only to fall just short as Onondaga West hung on for a 7-6 victory.
The two local sides proved to be the tournament’s focal point, for various reasons. They had met three days earlier, with West easily claiming a 9-1 win, the first of three consecutive triumphs that put West into the championship game.
Meanwhile, East went into the consolation bracket and just refused to die. On both Friday and Saturday, East won games in its last at-bat, and made it four wins in two days when it got past Northern New Jersey 9-6 to earn a rematch with West in the finals.
In many ways, that final reflected the effort of both teams – West’s early domination, followed by East’s determined comeback effort.
A run in the first quickly pulled West out in front, and then it scored four times in the top of the second inning to seize a 5-0 advantage. For East, this was nothing new, for it seemed to play its best when facing extreme adversity.
Sure enough, East put together a five-run rally in the bottom of the second to pull even, 5-5. West Genesee’s Wes Randall beat out an infield hit to score one of the runs, and then had to endure a protest by the East bench over his bat, which was denied.
Unfazed by the delay, East followed it up with an RBI single from Owen Dziados (Cicero-North Syracuse) and a game-tying two-run double by Jamesville-DeWitt’s Chris Lenish.
It stayed 5-5 until the top of the fifth. There, West’s Eric Hamilton (C-NS) led off with a single and Baldwinsville’s Gabe Levanti, who recently made a verbal commitment to Virginia Tech, tripled to bring home Hamilton. Bishop Ludden’s Ciro Frontale hit a fly ball that scored Levanti.
Trailing again, 7-5, in the bottom of the seventh, and two outs from elimination, West nearly pulled off its third come-from-behind win in as many days.
C-NS’s Paul Ludden and Henninger’s John Larca both singled. With Ludden on third, Justin Teague grounded out, but Ludden raced home, and the margin was one.
Now it was Liverpool’s Dom Pirro at the plate for East. He sent a fly ball deep to center field, only to see his one-time teammate, Alex Caruso (who is heading to St. John’s), chase it down for the final out.
With that, Onondaga West advanced to the Babe Ruth 16-18 World Series, to be held in Weimar, Texas, from July 28 through Aug. 4.