Jul 18, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
It took a group of all-stars from New Jersey to keep the Cicero Dawgs 18-and-under baseball team from reaching the Big League World Series for the first time.
During last week’s East Regional championships in Dover, Delaware, the Dawgs, mostly composed of top players from the Cicero-North Syracuse baseball program, started strong and made it to the championship round, only to fall just short.
The regional tournament started July 14, with Cicero defeating Maryland 5-1 behind the strong pitching of Austin Frawley, who went 5 2/3 innings, only allowing three hits before Will Apps came in to work the final 1 1/3 innings for the save.
Joe DeLuca and Paul Ludden, who had led the Dawgs at the plate en route to the team’s first-ever state tournament title, each got two hits against Maryland. Frawley and Apps had plenty of defensive help, too, as Jake McArdell, Paul Vinciguerra, Brandon Kapcinski, Joe Bodnar and Jesse Farabee made big plays.
Then Cicero went up against the host team from Dover on July 15 and won a dramatic 4-3 decision. With the game tied at 3-3 in the sixth inning and DeLuca on third base, Vinciguerra laid down a safety squeeze bunt, allowing DeLuca to score what turned out to be the winning run.
Prior to that, all of the Dawgs’ runs came in the top of the first thanks to hits from Bodnar, Eric Hamilton, Kapcinski, DeLuca and McArdell.
But that 3-0 cushion didn’t last as pitcher C.J. Szczesny, struggling with his control and the 95-degree heat, exited early. Farabee took over and, in 4 1/3 innings of work, limited Dover to two hits, overcoming seven walks to keep it close before Hamilton went the final two innings in relief.
One more win would put Cicero in the finals, but New Jersey denied them on July 16 in a tense 3-2, eight-inning classic where Hamilton pitched the entire way, striking out nine, and Ludden went four-for-four at the plate, but the Dawgs still lost.
With the game even at 2-2 in the top of the eighth, Cicero had runners on second and third with nobody out, but it could not move ahead. Instead, it watched New Jersey took advantage of a walk, throwing error and single to win it in the bottom of the eighth.
Later that same day, Cicero faced a must-win rematch with Dover if it wanted to stay alive, and got it, prevailing by the same 5-1 margin as it did in the tournament opener against Maryland.
Living up to a growing big-game reputation, Ryan Martin (Bishop Grimes) limited Dover to one hit in 5 1/3 innings on the mound before Apps, going the remaining 1 2/3 innings, earned the save. DeLuca, who tripled in the New Jersey game, got two hits and two RBIs here, while Vinciguerra added two hits and McArdell reached base three times, including a pair of walks.
This all led to the July 18 game against New Jersey. Get a win here, and Cicero would have an immediate rematch to determine the championship.
Again, it went to the latter stages a 2-2 game, and again the Dawgs would falter, New Jersey picking up three runs in the sixth and finishing off a 5-2 decision to advance to the Big League World Series in Easley, S.C., which starts later this week.