May 16, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Entering the Section III Class B playoffs, the Cazenovia baseball team possesses some confidence, borne out of last year’s B-2 title run and the fact that, this spring, it achieved yet another first for the program.
In a tense, exciting battle with Hannibal Wednesday at the Sean Googin Sports Complex, the Lakers were pushed to nine innings, but Billy Bigsby’s big hits, and some help from the opposition, produced a 2-1 victory over the Warriors.
With that win, the Lakers clinched a share of the OHSL Liberty National division regular-season title, the very first league championship Cazenovia has ever achieved. Solvay would eventually tie the Lakers for that title with wins later in the week.
Just like the decade-long climb made to relevance under head coach Jay Steinhorst, this game proved a battle of endurance and will.
Bigsby had his first big moment in the bottom of the fourth, getting to Hannibal ace Greg Pitcher as he singled home Cullen Franz to give Cazenovia a 1-0 lead.
Quickly, the Warriors answered in the fifth, Jake Shortslef (who struck out 20 in a win over Jordan-Elbridge two days earlier) using one of his three hits to bring home Trevor Alton and forge a 1-1 tie.
And there it stayed, through the rest of regulation. Chris Matteson relieved Mark Dewan in the sixth, but Pitcher stayed, as he mostly baffled the Lakers’ batters, with the exception of Franz, who finished with three hits.
Going to the bottom of the ninth, it was still 1-1. Then Bigsby knocked a single to left, which didn’t look that serious – until the ball rolled past the defender and went all the way to the fence.
Turning on his speed, Bigsby made it all the way to third base, and when the throw to the infield went off line, he took off for the plate and made it, two errors leading to a game-winning run and a bit of Laker history.
Matteson, with his long relief stint, earned the victory, as he and Dewan combined for nine strikeouts and only gave up a single walk between them.
In Monday’s game against visiting Solvay, the Lakers nearly made a tremendous comeback in the seventh inning, but fell short in an 8-6 loss to the Bearcats that ultimately kept Cazenovia from the outright league crown.
As the bottom of the seventh commenced, Cazenovia trailed 8-2, but its lineup suddenly roared to life, scaring Solvay as it scored four runs, only to have Bearcats reliever John Savo settle down and record the final out.
Prior to that, Solvay had built a 3-0 lead by the third inning. The Lakers scored twice in the bottom of the fourth, but the Bearcats tagged Cazenovia starter Liam Rogers for five runs in the top of the sixth that proved decisive.
Savo relieved Dan Fantacone, who earned the win. Chris Matteson pitched in relief of Rogers and also earned a pair of RBIs at the plate as Brodie Kellish also drove in a run. Franz scored twice as Matteson, Chad Warren, Ryker Smith and Drew Devendorf scored one run apiece.
Unlike in 2012, the Class B playoff bracket did not split. Instead, in a 15-team field, Cazenovia is the no. 5 seed, and faces no. 12 seed Skaneateles in Tuesday’s opening round, with the winner advancing to Thursday’s quarterfinal against Solvay or Adirondack. The semifinals are Saturday and the title game is May 27 at Rome’s DeLutis Field.
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