What lay ahead for the Skaneateles baseball team in the penultimate week of the regular season was nothing less than a test of all of the squad’s qualities, from pitching depth to lineup flexibility.
The Lakers played six times in six days – and won them all, none bigger than Friday’s showdown with visiting Westhill, a battle of two sides with championship ambitions.
But with early run production, solid pitching from Cregg Scherrer and lots of defense, the Lakers passed this important test, beating the Warriors 5-1.
In the bottom of the first inning, Josh McCabe and Michael Murphy singled to lead off before Scherrer singled home McCabe. A wild pitch brought home Murphy and Scherrer scored on an RBI grounder.
Two more runs followed in the bottom of the second as Jimmy Liberatore’s two-out double extended the lead to 5-0, ample room for Scherrer, who in six innings allowed five hits but kept Westhill off the board.
He was helped by tremendous defense, whether it was Tommy Reed’s diving stop at second in the fifth inning or McCabe’s leaping catch on a Nate King liner that killed a bases-loaded threat.
Then Scherrer delivered the final touch when, in center field, he threw out a possible second run in the seventh inning on Ben Coates’ bases-loaded single off reliever Kenny Peterson.
With so many games on the docket, it was imperative to start well, and the Lakers did so last Monday at Phoenix, breezing to a 6-1 victory over the Firebirds.
Pitcher Jacob Nesbitt got immediate help when Skaneateles scored twice in each of the first two innings. That was all Nesbitt needed as he lasted 6 1/3 innings and held Phoenix to three hits, walking two and striking out three.
Reed and Murphy each had two hits, accounting for more than half the Lakers’ seven-hit output. Scherrer tripled and drew a walk as he, along with Reed, Luke Viggiano, George Ross and Christian Daley, had one RBI apiece.
Returning to Oswego County a day later, Skaneateles this time faced Mexico and was in control most of the way as it pushed past the Tigers 7-5.
All of the Lakers’ runs came by the fifth inning as it accumulated a 7-1 lead. Murphy, with two hits and three RBIs, led Skaneateles at the plate as Peterson got two hits and scored twice. Scherrer, Viggiano and Christian Daley also drove in runs.
Reed pitched breezed through the first four innings, only to have Mexico rough him up for four runs in the bottom of the fifth. It required Jack Carlisle to take over and go the last 2 2/3 innings in relief, and Carlisle only allowed one hit to help the Lakers stay in front.
At home Wednesday to face Altmar-Parish-Williamstown, the Lakers were nervous for quite a while, needing a sixth-inning rally to feel secure as it held off the Rebels 5-3.
After an exchange of first-inning runs, Skaneateles inched in front in the bottom of the third. And it stayed 2-1 until the sixth, when the Lakers finally solved APW starter Tim Trumble and scored three times.
Scherrer hit a home run, tripled and got three RBIs, with Murphy and Nesbitt also driving in runs. Jack Canty pitched well until the seventh, when a furious Rebels comeback forced Peterson to pick up the last two outs.
Thursday’s game with Jordan-Elbridge could have proven a letdown, but with Westhill looming straight ahead the Lakers stayed focused on the opponent in front of them and flew to a 14-4 victory over the Eagles.
Scoring in every inning except the third, Skaneateles got 12 hits, including a home run from Murphy, who got two RBIs as Viggiano drove in three runs. Jimmy Liberatore also had two RBIs as Scherrer scored three times, with Carlisle pitching 4 2/3 solid innings before Peterson relieved him.
The win over Westhill followed, and then, on Saturday, this perfect week for Skaneateles culminated with its largest run total of the season as it pummeled its fellow Lakers from Cazenovia 20-4.
All this had moved the Lakers’ record to 15-2, with three games left as it would take on Homer, Chittenango and Hannibal before finding out where it would get placed for the Section III Class B playoffs.