Manlius With a few more days to go before the Section III Class AA playoffs launch, the West Genesee baseball team still had important business to attend to - namely, ending a drought of outright league championships that stretched back more than three decades.
In order to secure the CNY Counties League American division regular-season title, the Wildcats had to win at Fayetteville-Manlius Monday afternoon, and though there were all kinds of nervous moments, WG pulled it off, edging the Hornets 6-5.
Having long separated from the rest of the league contenders, the Wildcats and Hornets held the top two spots, but F-M had the edge head-to-head, based on beating WG 7-6 on May 7 in Camillus.
Less than two weeks later, the two sides reunited, with WG pitcher Seamus Barry looking to follow up his strong effort in a 4-0 shutout over Cicero-North Syracuse as he opposed John Schurman, F-M's top hurler this spring, sporting a 4-1 mark.
Barry never got out of the second inning, though, struggling with his control. He left with arm trouble with the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the second and the game tied, 1-1, with Evan Reichel replacing him.
On the first pitch he threw, Reichel surrendered a two-run single to Anthony Nucerino, which put the Hornets in front, 3-1, but settled down and proceeded to blank the Hornets over the next four innings.
By then, the Wildcats were back in front, 5-3, thanks to a four-run third inning where it got just one hit off Schurman, but benefited from a series of F-M errors that kept the inning alive.
Not only did Reichel pitch well, he also delivered an RBI single in the top of the sixth to extend WG's lead to 6-3. In the bottom of the sixth, Reichel tired, and F-M tagged him for two runs, one of them racing home on Josh Loeffler's triple.
One more time, though, Reichel bore down, getting Mike Hoalcraft to pop out with the tying run on third. Taking no chances, the Wildcats brought in pitching ace Bailey Gauthier, who set the Hornets down in the bottom of the seventh for the save - and a league championship.