May 30, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Winning its first Section III championship in 11 years was sweet enough for the Jamesville-DeWitt baseball team. Doing it at the expense of its neighbors and rivals from Christian Brothers Academy made it sweeter.
What was a close, tense sectional Class A final at NBT Bank Stadium Thursday night blew open when the Red Rams scored nine runs in the fifth inning, going on to defeat the Brothers 11-1.
According to head coach Ryan Dora, the roots of this victory traced back to May 9, when J-D went to CBA and lost a 13-5 decision, seeing its pitching ace, Sam Crisalli, lit up for seven runs in just three innings before getting pulled. The Rams had not lost since.
“We played tight in that game,” he said. “Here, we kept our emotions in check and played loose and confident.”
The final gave Crisalli, who pitched a complete-game, six-hit shutout in an 11-0 win over Whitesboro in the Class A quarterfinals on May 24, a chance at redemption against the Brothers, who countered with its own ace, Webb Little.
If any single play got J-D rolling, it was a 5-4-3 double play in the bottom of the first, Jake Binder to Chris McGee to John Werbowsky, that snuffed out CBA’s first attempt to get on the board.
Minutes later, in the top of the second, Crisalli and Binder led off with singles. Jimmy Sinopoli moved them over with a textbook sacrifice bunt, and on Alex Way’s grounder, Crisalli somehow slid around the tag of CBA catcher Camillo Spinoso for the game’s first run. Tom Canfield’s RBI single scored Binder to make it 2-0.
Little settled down and retired the Rams in order in the next two innings, while Crisalli continued to silence the potent Brothers’ bats, inducing plenty of fly-ball outs on the vast turf of the Syracuse Chiefs’ home field. Crisalli said that his calm, relaxed approach allowed him to pitch better against CBA this time around.
Yet no one, on either side, could have anticipated what took place in the top of the fifth.
Leading off, Ryan McGee fit in a bloop single into left field. A throwing error sent McGee to third and Xander Ferlenda to second, and then John Werbowsky walked to load the bases.
When Little walked Paul Fitzgibbons to score McGee and extend J-D’s lead to 3-0, he exited, but Emmett Dunn fared no better, walking Crisalli on four pitches and, from an 0-2 count, also walking Binder, which made it 5-0.
Jimmy Sinopoli singled home another run, and then Alex Way drew yet another bases-loaded walk, extending J-D’s margin to 7-0. That was it for Dunn, and Tim Pierret, CBA’s starting pitcher in the 7-2 sectional semifinal win over New Hartford just three days earlier, took his turn on the mound.
Canfield greeted Pierret with a run-scoring single, and then McGee returned to beat out an infield hit for J-D’s seventh run of the inning. Incredibly, 10 Rams batters in a row safely reached base before the Brothers could record an out.
“The fifth inning was shocking,” said Dora. “Baseball is quirky like that, and it’s happened to us before.”
Perhaps it has, but never in a game of this importance, and by the time Werbowsky contributed an RBI single and Fitzgibbons got a second RBI thanks to a sacrifice fly to make it 11-0, the game, and the sectional title, was out of CBA’s reach.
Crisalli reached 13 1/3 scoreless post-season innings before CBA pushed across a run in the bottom of the seventh, which broke up the shutout, but could not prevent J-D’s celebration.
Now the Red Rams have to wait eight days before meeting the Section II champion in next Friday’s Class A regional playoffs at Onondaga Community College. Dora said that the team’s all-out approach to practice will keep them from getting rusty.
“Every day we scrimmage each other hard,” he said. “We’ll keep ourselves in a competitive frame of mind.”
Competitive enough, said Crisalli, to think that “we have a real chance to win a state championship.”