Jun 01, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Westhill’s baseball team could not avoid a giant target as the top seed and overwhelming favorite to win the Section III Class B championship.
More than anyone else, Bishop Ludden, as the no. 5 seed, wanted a shot at the Warriors — and would get it on Saturday as the two neighbors dueled in the semifinal round.
Yet this meeting, like two previous encounters on May 3 and 16, would turn out in Westhill’s favor, as it jumped all over the Gaelic Knights and never let up until it had a 9-2 victory safely in hand.
It was Westhill’s 24th consecutive win, and brings the Warriors to Wednesday’s championship game at Alliance Bank Stadium against OHSL Liberty division rival Skaneateles, who ripped Holland Patent 15-3 in the other semifinal.
In the bottom of the first inning, after the Gaelic Knights seized a quick 1-0 lead, Westhill tagged Ludden pitcher James Murray for three runs, then did the same thing off Ryan O’Kane in the bottom of the second to make it 6-1.
It was 8-1 before Ludden scored again, and by then, Westhill was safe. Ryan Malley pitched most of the way, earning the victory as he and reliever Pat Lemmo held the Gaelic Knights to seven total hits.
Meanwhile, Mike McMullen scorched Ludden for four hits, including three doubles, as his average improved to .576. Lemmo, Mike DeCarr and Len Graf each had two RBIs, with Malley and Nate Nigolian joining McMullen with one RBI apiece.
Even the Warriors could not escape opening-round nerves last Tuesday afternoon, but it recovered to get an 8-5 victory over no. 16 seed Herkimer.
When the Magicians put together a three-run first inning, Nate Nigolian exited the mound, and Ryan Malley took over. Malley would go five innings and earn the win, with Pat Lemmo seeing a relief stint.
Despite some early offense, the Warriors did not go ahead for good until the fourth inning, when Mike Mascari’s three-run home run broke a 3-3 tie. DeCarr had a solo home run, with Lemmo adding two RBIs and McMullen doubling home a run.
Up the road at Ludden, the Gaelic Knights received a fair challenge from no. 12 seed Utica-Notre Dame, but rallied to beat the Jugglers 9-6.
Even with a 3-1 lead, Ludden wasn’t safe, as UND tagged pitcher James Murray for five runs in the top of the fourth to seize a 6-3 lead.
Immediately responding, the Gaelic Knights tied it in the bottom of the fourth, then used three runs over the next two innings to inch back in front. Matt Weeks, with a double and four RBIs, and John Rooney, with a home run and two RBIs, led the rally.
Murray and O’Kane combined to blank the Jugglers over the last three innings to help Ludden advance.
In the quarterfinals, Ludden took the long trip to Boonville to meet no. 4 seed Adirondack, who beat Cazenovia in the opening round.
Unfazed by all this, the Gaelic Knights beat the Wildcats 13-6, overcoming a 3-1 first-inning deficit by scoring four runs in the top of the second to pull in front for good. Adirondack closed back to 7-6 in the fourth inning, but Ludden used three-run rallies in the fifth and sixth innings to get clear.
As part of a 16-hit attack, O’Kane, Weeks and Chris Davis each had three RBIs, with Murray, Matt Pirro and Dan Fadden also driving in runs. Pirro took his turn on the mound and got the win, with O’Kane also seeing a long pitching stint.
Westhill, meanwhile, got to face no. 9 seed Marcellus, who had to wade through a two-day, protest-laden game with Hannibal before winning 4-3 to get this far.
Without any controversy, the Warriors dispatched the Mustangs 9-2 behind DeCarr’s solid pitching as he allowed just two hits in a complete-game effort.
Leading all the way, Westhill scored in five of its six times at the plate, using speed on the base paths to drive the Mustangs to distraction. Dan Karleski and Nick Downs each had two RBIs, while Mascari and Tim O’Sullivan also drove in runs.