Fayetteville-Manlius’ Sean Brown (7) dives to home plate, avoiding the tag of West Genesee catcher Nate Guinta, to score his team’s first run in the sixth inning of Monday’s Class AA semifinal at Onondaga Community College, eventually won by the Hornets 5-3 in nine innings as Brown pitched a long relief stint to earn the win.
Onondaga What the Fayetteville-Manlius baseball team will experience on Friday night, when it ventures to NBT Bank Stadium to face Auburn for the Section III Class AA championship, will prove memorable.
But it would have to go a long way to match the high tension and swings of emotion that Monday night's AA semifinal against West Genesee at Onondaga Community College provided.
Shut down for much of the game, and then taking control, and then seeing victory snatched away at the last possible moment of regulation - the no. 4 seed Hornets went through it all, and somehow managed to emerge with a 5-3 victory over the top-seeded Wildcats.
That it would prove so exciting wasn't too much of a surprise, given that both of their regular-season meetings were one-run decisions, with the road team prevailing on each occasion. Yet even those games didn't provide the sudden twists that this playoff encounter would.
WG's Evan Reichel, the same pitcher who tossed 4 2/3 innings of relief the week before to beat F-M 6-5, started on this night, and held the Hornets to one hit (Anthony Nucerino's bunt single) over his first five innings of work.
Meanwhile, Hornets pitcher John Schurman mostly contained the Wildcats, but still saw WG get a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third on Colin BeVard's RBI single.
Two innings later, with two on and two out, Schurman exited and Sean Brown took over in relief, only to have Reichel deliver a single that scored BeVard to make it 2-0. Given the way Reichel was pitching, that two-run margin seemed a lot larger.
But in the sixth, F-M turned the game around, starting with Brown's single. Then, with two out, Matt Truman blooped a single just over second base and Brown, running with the pitch, startled the Wildcats by racing all the way home.