May 04, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Nearly a year has passed since the Westhill baseball team turned back Cazenovia for the 2012 overall Section III Class B championship.
Yet that amount of time has not changed the relative position of the two OHSL Liberty division rivals, as the Warriors, paced by Ben Walsh’s superb pitching, turned back the Lakers 5-0 Friday afternoon at NBT Bank Stadium.
This game was part of the sixth annual Strike Out Lou Gehrig’s Disease Classic, a gathering of top Section III teams at the Syracuse Chiefs’ home ballpark to raise money for ALS research at Upstate Medical University.
This was also the only time Westhill and Cazenovia would play in the regular season. So it wasn’t surprising that both sides sent their aces to the hill – Walsh for the Warriors, Liam Rogers for the Lakers.
Rogers carried a 4-0 record into the game, and despite J.C. Pena reaching third base with a triple in the first inning and a walk and two stolen bases in the third inning, Rogers escaped trouble both times, striking out seven in his first three innings of work.
Walsh, who flirted with no-hitters in each of his last two starts against Skaneateles (on April 22) and Solvay (April 26), was working with a full week’s rest, and despite some shaky early control, he too, kept the game 0-0, helped by Sam Walsh throwing out Jeff Stowell trying to steal second base in the bottom of the first and a pick-off of Mark Dewan two innings later.
In the top of the fourth, Westhill broke through against Rogers. Sam Walsh’s fly ball fell in left field for a double when Billy Bigsby fell going back to catch it, and with two out, Bob Antonacci doubled home Walsh with the game’s first run.
The Warriors would keep pecking away, scoring single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to make it 3-0. Pena scored on an error in the fifth, and after Chris Matteson replaced Rogers in the sixth, Antonacci’s single brought home pinch-runner Hunter Chester.
Two more runs in the seventh created the final margin, but Walsh didn’t need extra help. After surrendering a single to Bigsby in the first, he didn’t allow another hit the rest of his way to earn his third consecutive one-hitter, walking three and striking out nine.
That just started an eventful weekend for Westhill as it took on red-hot Homer Saturday and had to hang on to pull out a 10-7 victory over the Trojans.
Homer had won eight of its previous nine games (including a 5-4 win over state-ranked Jamesville-DeWitt), and jumped on Westhill 3-0 in the first inning before the Warriors moved in front with four runs in the second.
By the fifth inning, Westhill led 8-3, led by Kevin Drexler’s three-for-three effort that included a double and three RBIs, while Kevin Karleski also drove in two runs. But Homer kept getting to Sam Walsh and Mike Burton for runs before Pena came in to pitch the seventh and earn the save.
Much earlier in the week, Westhill rekindled its rivalry with next-door neighbor Bishop Ludden last Monday afternoon and put away the Gaelic Knights 7-1 for its fifth win in a row.
The Warriors scored runs in each of the first four innings, more than enough for Pena, who not only had a double, two runs scored and two RBIs, but also pitched five innings to earn the win, only giving up one hit.
Sam Walsh closed it out in relief and also got an RBI at the plate. Jim Albright had a pair of hits, with Antonacci contributing an RBI. Cory Poplawski and Jack Rauch split Ludden’s pitching duties, Poplawski taking the loss as Alex Trunfio drove in Jared Taylor for his team’s lone run in the fourth inning.
Ludden, playing right after Westhill on Friday at NBT Bank Stadium, took a 5-4 defeat to Bishop Grimes, the Cobras moving in front with two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning as Poplawski took the loss. Robbie Weigan earned a pair of RBIs as
After the loss to Westhill, Ludden rebounded a day later at Mexico with one big inning to put away the Tigers 11-2.
Shut down for most of the game, the Gaelic Knights were down 1-0 going to the top of the sixth. But everything changed in that frame as Ludden lit up Mexico pitchers Robert Wallace and Connor Campbell for all 11 of its runs.
Rauch’s three-run home run was the big blow, as he and Poplawski both drove in three runs. Weigan, Kyle Hawk and Jared Taylor each scored twice in that long frame as Trunfio, Jake Bianchi and Zack Walser had one RBI apiece. Walser pitched, too, striking out six and allowing just six hits in a complete-game effort.
In Thursday’s 12-5 win over Fulton, the Gaelic Knights again relied on the big inning, breaking a 1-1 tie with four runs in the third inning and getting six runs in the sixth to pull clear.
Taylor went four-for-five, scoring three runs, while Walser tripled and earned three RBIs. Poplawski added three hits as Hawk drove in two runs. Rauch, Chris Matchuk and Ian Quinn each got one RBI.
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