Aug 05, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
From start to finish, the Babe Ruth Mid-Atlantic Regional baseball tournament, featuring 10 teams from five different states, had twists and turns and plenty of excitement.
And North Syracuse was right in the middle of it, overcoming an extra-inning defeat at the start to win four straight times and reach Tuesday’s championship game against Nottingham, from central New Jersey.
All told, 10 teams participated in the tournament — five from across the state, plus entries from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.
For its Thursday-night opener at the Gillette Road complex, North Syracuse faced Nottingham (N.J.), a team that had won both the 13 and 14-year-old Babe Ruth divisions in 2006 and ’07 — both times, stopping North Syracuse in the finals.
Here, the two sides combined for a tense, terrific game where North Syracuse fell behind, 3-1, only to tie it with a pair of third-inning runs. From there, Dave Campese blanked Nottingham for the rest of regulation, but Nottingham matched those zeroes and kept it even at 3-3.
Neither team committed a defensive error until the bottom of the eighth inning, when a wild throw at shortstop put North Syracuse in trouble. With a runner still on second base and two out, Nottingham’s Andrew Immordino singled to right and the winning run scored.
The 4-3 defeat forced North Syracuse into a bind. It would now have to win its remaining three games, two of them on a single day, if it wanted to continue.
On Saturday morning, before the rains hit at North Syracuse Junior High, North Syracuse ripped Larchmont-Mamaroneck (Westchester County) 11-2, improving to 1-1. It took charge with seven runs in the first two innings. Shawn Peake had a home run, double and four RBIs as Matt O’Kipney got the win on the mound.
Now came the Sunday doubleheader. To this point, three teams (Valley, South Colonie and Lou Gehrig) had played twin bills, and each of them had lost the second game. North Syracuse had to avoid that fate if it wanted to keep it championship hopes alive.
At NSJHS in the morning, North Syracuse needed to go eight innings to survive Jack Kroft (Northern New Jersey) in a 2-1 decision.
Kroft scored in the first inning, only to see North Syracuse tie it 1-1 in the third inning on Andrew Schreyack’s RBI single.
The combined shutout effort by pitchers Matt Pirro and Jimmy Wright kept it even until the bottom of the eighth, when North Syracuse put together four consecutive singles, culminating with Schreyack’s hit that scored Riley Moonan to win it. Moonan and Campese both had three hits on the day.
Hours later, at Gillette, the math was simple when North Syracuse met Lou Gehrig (Buffalo area) in a rematch of the New York State finals in Ithaca. With both teams at 2-1, whoever won would advance, and whoever lost would be done.
North Syracuse fell behind again, 2-1, but went in front for good in the third inning. With the bases loaded, Ryan Schillo hit a grounder that took a big hop over the shortstop, allowing two runs to score.
Another run in the fifth inning made it 4-2, and Schreyack made it hold up, blanking Gehrig after the first inning in his complete-game effort. He put the tying runs on base in the bottom of the seventh, but coaxed a game-ending flyout.
This brought North Syracuse into Monday’s semifinals against South Colonie, from the Albany suburbs, who was also 3-1 and had beaten Mifflin County (Pa.) 5-1 the day before to earn its ticket into the elimination round.
Once it overcame a shaky first inning, North Syracuse took complete control, pounding out 14 hits in a 13-2 victory shortened to six innings by the 10-run mercy rule.
Having scored three times in the top of the first inning, North Syracuse still faced trouble when, in the bottom of the first, South Colonie got two runs and loaded the bases with two out. But Campese, pitching for the second time in this tournament, got Chris Rogan on a called strike three, and it was never that close again.
From that early 3-2 margin, North Syracuse produced a run in the second inning, two runs in the third inning, two more in the fifth innings, and five runs in the top of the sixth to finish things off.
Campese not only got the win on the mound, he got two doubles and a single, finishing with three RBIs as Moonan also drove in three runs. Team captain Mike Parsons pounded out three hits and three RBIs, scoring four times.
Earlier on Monday, Nottingham beat Mifflin 6-2 in the other semifinal, setting up a rematch of the 2007 final in the 14-year-old division, where Nottingham beat North Syracuse.
The final group standings:
Group A — Nottingham (N.J.) 3-1, North Syracuse 3-1, Lou Gehrig 2-2, Jack Kroft (N.J.) 1-3, Larchmont-Mamaroneck 1-3
Group B — South Colonie 3-1, Mifflin County (Pa.) 3-1, St. Mary’s (Md.) 2-2, Valley 2-2, Piedmont (Del.) 0-4