Baldwinsville senior pitcher Colin Conklin (15) worked 6 2/3 innings in Monday's Section III Class AA final at Rome's DeLutis Field and picked up the victory as the Bees defeated Oswego 3-1 and earned back-to-back sectional titles for the first time in school history.
Conklin, and the Bees, didn’t repeat the Northstars’ mistakes and take the Bucs lightly. From the start, Conklin had his curve working, as he glided through the first four innings, only allowing two hits. Yet it remained 0-0, for Oswego right-hander Josh Carney was matching zeroes and frustrating B’ville’s lineup just as much.
The fact that B’ville did not make a defensive mistake all afternoon grew more important in the bottom of the fourth. An Oswego throwing error put Merryweather on second, and pinch-runner Tom Scarfino raced home thanks to another error on Zach Leo’s infield hit up the middle.
It stayed 1-0 until the bottom of the sixth. Jake Norton, whose clutch hits keyed both of the previous playoff wins, led off with a single and moved to second on Josh Savacool’s sacrifice bunt.
Up stepped Levanti, the four-year starter behind the plate, who promptly ripped a double off reliever Brandon Schultzke to score Norton.
Then, after moving to third base on Merryweather's flyout, Levanti noticed a lazy throw back to Schultzke following a pitch to Jimmy Schmidt and took off, stealing home to make it 3-0.
Those insurance runs would prove important. Conklin struggled in the seventh, giving up a pair of singles and, with two outs, a double to pinch-hitter Jordan Atwood that scored Oswego’s lone run, but also put the tying runs in scoring position.
Taking no chances, Penafeather removed Conklin to a standing ovation from the Bees’ fans. Merryweather took over and needed just three pitches to coax Colin Clark into a game-ending groundout, and the celebration began.
Best of all for the Bees, it gets to return to the Class AA state tournament, and to DeLutis Field, for next Tuesday’s regional final against the Section II champions. A win there gets B’ville to the state final four in Binghamton on June 8, and with Blewett and Merryweather well-rested, the Bees might be perfectly set up for a run at the state title.
“We’ve been here before, so the nerves won’t be as high,” said Conklin, and Penafeather echoed his confidence, saying his players still have more to offer.
“I don’t think we’ve played our best baseball yet,” said Penafeather.