Jun 09, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Down three runs in the seventh and final inning, and against a pitcher who had never lost in his high school career, the Baldwinsville baseball team was up against it in Saturday’s state Class AA semifinal against Victor at NYSEG Stadium in Binghamton.
Somehow, the Bees still tied it – only to see the Blue Devils pull it out, 5-4, when Mike Wagner singled through a drawn-in infield in the bottom of the seventh to plate the winning run.
In every conceivable manner, B’ville came into this game as an underdog. Not only had Victor won the state title in 2011, it brought to the mound Matt Portland, who had gone an amazing 24-0 in three seasons for the Blue Devils, 9-0 this spring.
From the start, the Bees made Portland work, loading the bases in the first inning and getting two runners in scoring position in the third inning. Both times, though, Portland escaped trouble, mostly through strikeouts as he got six K’s in the first three frames.
Entering the fourth, B’ville trailed, 1-0. Starting pitcher Scott Blewett had allowed a run in the bottom of the first through a walk, sacrifice bunt, infield hit and wild pickoff throw, but had settled down to blank Victor over the next two innings, keeping it tight.
Patient at the plate, the Bees got a pair of walks in the top of the fourth, and made Portland pay when Brett Charbonneau drilled an RBI single that scored a run and tied it 1-1.
But the tie did not last long. Victor loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth, and Jake Redding worked a walk to score a run. Moments later, Dale Wickham singled, scoring two more, and B’ville now trailed 4-1.
Through the fifth and sixth innings, it remained that way. Left-hander Scott Orr, whose brilliant pitching helped B’ville beat Columbia in the AA regional final earlier in the week, replaced Blewett in the sixth and worked a scoreless frame.
The Bees were three outs from elimination. By wearing down Portland in those first six innings, though, B’ville gave itself a chance in the seventh, which it didn’t waste.
Charbonneau, who already had two hits and had driven in his team’s lone run, reached on an error. Gabe Levanti singled, moving Charbonneau to third, and Connor Martin’s single scored Charbonneau to make it 4-2.
Levanti, aggressive on the basepaths, stole third, allowing him to score on Zach Leo’s sacrifice fly. With one out, the Bees’ patient approach paid off again as Jimmy Schmidt and Jake Norton both worked walks to load the bases.
Then Portland uncorked a wild pitch, and Martin raced home, his run tying it, 4-4. Now the Bees could move in front, but Portland escaped further damage when Josh Demoski grounded out.
Victor was not rattled by the Bees’ stirring rally, and went right to work against Orr in the bottom of the seventh.
Tom Wagner led off with a single. When Portland tried a sacrifice bunt, an error at first suddenly put two runners on base. Then Orr hit Pete Carrier to load the bases.
Now the infield moved in close, looking for a force play at home. On the first pitch he saw, Mike Wagner, just a freshman, drilled the hit that ended B’ville’s quest for a first-ever state title.
If the Bees could take any consolation from that disappointment, it came from the fact that Victor, worn out by the battle, lost the title game to Kingston 9-8 a few hours later.