May 24, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
As if the Westhill baseball team wasn’t frightening enough, what it displayed on its way to winning Cicero-North Syracuse’s John Ilacqua Jr. Memorial Tournament had to put greater fear into all possible post-season opponents.
The tournament began last Friday with sophomore pitcher Jack Ganley throwing a perfect game in the Warriors’ 18-0 romp over Jamesville-DeWitt, and concluded Saturday with fellow sophomore Kevin McAvoy going to the mound and shutting down the hosts from CNS in a long relief stint to beat the Northstars 9-6 for the first-place trophy.
With the Section III Class B playoffs looming and league play over, head coach Bob Weismore intended to use his younger pitchers to give the guys in front of the staff (Mike DeCarr, Ryan Malley and Pat Lemmo) a chance to rest.
Thanks to Ganley and McAvoy, Westhill got a lot more than it ever imagined.
When Ganley went to the mound against J-D, it didn’t look to be an easy assignment, since the Class A Red Rams were 12-6 and had enough power in its lineup to produce runs — or at least some hits.
Somehow, Ganley prevented both things from happening. Twenty-one J-D batters came to the plate — and all 21 were retired, just one of them through a strikeout.
This meant Westhill had to make 20 defensive plays behind Ganley, including Mike Mascari reaching over the fence for a catch to prevent a home run. Infielders Greg Schmidt, Mike McMullen and Nate Nigolian all made superb plays, too, to keep the gem alive.
Meanwhile, Westhill unleashed its usual amount of offense — 19 hits off three J-D pitchers, two of them home runs from DeCarr as he finished with five RBIs. Schmidt, David Grace and Mike Fagan each drove in two runs, as McMullen, Mascari, Corey Hewitt and Tyler Nigolian earned one RBI apiece.
Now Westhill had to beat host CNS in the May 23 title game as an encore. It didn’t start out smoothly, but thanks to McAvoy and some timely hitting, the Warriors would win again.
Ryan Malley’s bases-clearing double in the first inning quickly put Westhill up 3-0. It was 4-0 when, in the bottom of the sixth, the Northstars erupted for six runs as Nick Downs got hit hard and lost his control.
McAvoy (called up in mid-season from the JV ranks) entered, escaped that jam, and proceeded to display superb control over the next five innings, allowing just a handful of hits. His only real trouble came in the bottom of the sixth, when CNS, down 7-6, put the tying and go-ahead runs on base, but watched as McAvoy struck out both Riley Moonan and Matt West.
While all this was going on, Westhill tied it 6-6 in third inning with DeCarr and Len Graf earning RBI hits and went ahead 7-6 an inning later when Mascari scored on a wild pitch.
Graf returned in the top of the seventh to clinch it. In a long battle with CNS reliever Austin Hyde, Graf fouled off several two-strike pitches, then smashed a pitch he liked over the right-field fence for a two-run home run.
Before going to Gillette Field, the Warriors took care of one more OHSL Liberty division foe, beating Skaneateles 8-1.
Malley went most of the way on the mound, as he and McAvoy combined on a two-hitter. A three-run second inning and four-run fifth inning produced most of the damage as Mascari earned a home run and two RBIs, with Downs also driving in two runs.
When the Section III baseball playoff pairings got announced on Sunday, Westhill had the no. 1 seed and would meet no. 16 seed Herkimer in the first round.
Meanwhile, Bishop Ludden drew the no. 5 seed and a first-round assignment with no. 12 seed Utica-Notre Dame. And Jordan-Elbridge, the no. 14 seed, visits no. 3 seed Lowville. All want to reach the June 3 title game at Alliance Bank Stadium.