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.