For all that the Baldwinsville baseball team has accomplished through the decades, what it did Monday afternoon at Rome’s DeLutis Field was something new.
The Bees, for the first time, repeated as Section III champions, turning back Oswego 3-1 in the Class AA title game on the back of Colin Conklin’s strong left-handed pitching, error-free defense and, once again, timely hits in the clutch.
“I’m proud of this group,” said head coach Dave Penafeather. “They’ve been playing together for a long time and they understand this accomplishment.”
One of the Bees’ seniors, catcher Gabe Levanti, said that, while his team has struggled at times to put runs on the board, it still performs when it matters.
“The great teams learn to find ways to win,” he said.
To say that this wasn’t easy understates the drama that B’ville went through as the no. 2 seed in the sectional tournament. Due to two rainouts, it had to play all three rounds in a span of less than 48 hours, and none of them proved easy.
First, the Bees had to go through 11 tense innings to get past Auburn 3-2 in the quarterfinals on Saturday. Then it had to rally late to edge past Syracuse East 2-1 in the semifinals on Saturday.
In doing so, B’ville used up both of its top two pitchers, Scott Blewett and Pat Merryweather. This left the starting task in the final to Conklin, who said his main goal was to use his curveball to get ahead of Oswego’s hitters.
That the Buccaneers stood in the Bees’ way was a story in itself. Rising from a no. 5 seed, Oswego had already toppled Fayetteville-Manlius when, in Sunday’s semifinal, it stunned top seed Cicero-North Syracuse 10-4, taking out the team that beat B’ville twice in the regular season.