Will Randall, as fired up as his West Genesee baseball teammates, crossed the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning of Monday night’s Section III Class AA semifinal at Onondaga Community College, tying the game and convincing every Wildcat partisan that it would win here, and then go face Auburn Friday night for the sectional title at NBT Bank Stadium.
Only it did not turn out that way.
Somehow absorbing the blow of a two-out, two-strike balk while on the brink of victory, no. 4 seed Fayetteville-Manlius scored twice in the top of the ninth and held on to beat top-seeded West Genesee 5-3.
That it would prove so exciting wasn't too much of a surprise, given that both of the regular-season meetings between WG and F-M were one-run decisions, with the road team prevailing on each occasion. Yet even those games didn't provide the sudden twists of their playoff encounter.
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 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, Reichel delivered a two-out 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.
Before WG could recover, Josh Loeffler singled and stole second, and Mike Hoalcraft drilled a single that scored Truman and Loeffler, pushing the Hornets to a 3-2 lead.