May 16, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Vince Mallaro started it, Will Apps finished it, and in between the Cicero-North Syracuse baseball team got just what it needed to lock down the top seed for the upcoming Section III Class AA playoffs.
More importantly, the Northstars showed, in its 3-2 victory over Baldwinsville Wednesday night at Gillette Field, that it could recover from a defeat and put together a big-time performance against a big-time opponent.
“It’s a big boost, showing that we can come back from a loss,” said Mallaro, who drove in all three of his team’s runs with a pair of timely hits.
The loss Mallaro referenced came on Monday, when the Northstars fell 2-0 to Fayetteville-Manlius, its first blemish of the season following a 14-0 start and a rise to no. 2 in the state AA rankings.
What that also meant was that the long-anticipated C-NS showdown with B’ville would determine both the CNY Counties League National division regular-season title and that no. 1 sectional seed.
Back when the Northstars topped the Bees 10-4 on April 25, neither of B’ville’s top pitchers, Scott Blewett and Pat Merryweather, appeared. This time, the left-handed Merryweather was on the mound, opposing C-NS junior right-hander Jesse Farabee.
Immediately, Farabee got rocked. With one out and Josh Savacool on first in the top of the first inning, Bees senior catcher Gabe Levanti crushed an offering over the left-field fence to give B’ville a 2-0 lead.
C-NS, in the bottom of the first, responded with a patient approach, forcing Merryweather to labor as he surrendered two singles and a walk to load the bases. Then Mallaro, on a 3-2 pitch, drilled a single to left, scoring Paul Vinciguerra and Paul Ludden to tie it, 2-2.
Mallaro was just getting started. In the third, after Levanti doubled with two out, Merryweather sent a sinking line drive to left field, and Mallaro slid to make the catch, saving at least one run.
Then, in the bottom of the fourth, with the game still 2-2, Mallaro returned to the plate. The University at Buffalo-bound senior said he was confident going into that at-bat thanks to his previous single, and he crushed Merryweather’s fastball 400 feet for a go-ahead home run.
“He has been getting big hits for us all season,” said C-NS head coach Kevin Rockwell. “And in big games, he steps up.”
In the top of the fifth, Rockwell didn’t hesitate. He said that Farabee’s velocity was a concern, so facing the top of the Bees’ order, he brought in his relief ace, Apps, whose three-inning stint in the first meeting with B’ville led to a win.
Apps was even better on this night. Using his unique sidearm delivery and wide array of pitches, he retired the side in the fifth and sixth, and after drawing a leadoff walk in the seventh, he escaped further trouble, getting Josh Demoski to ground out to end it. Not once did a B’ville hitter get a ball past the infield against Apps.
“You’ve got to change speeds against that lineup,” said Apps. “When you do, you find success.”
And the Northstars’ success against B’ville means that it could have an easier path to the sectional title. Still, the Bees are set to be the no. 2 seed, so a third encounter, in the May 27 title game at Rome’s DeLutis Field, could take place.