Having split their two-game series on May 7-8, the East Syracuse Minoa and Jamesville-DeWitt baseball teams had both played quite well since, establishing themselves as serious Section III Class A title contenders.
A combination of early power and plenty of pitching helped the Spartans prevail 4-2 over Central Square last Monday afternoon, the tone set when Sam Jenkins belted a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning off Redhawks starter Jimmy Reynolds.
ESM protected that 2-0 lead until the fifth, when Central Square struck for a pair of runs, for. That 2-2 tie didn’t last long, though.
Run-scoring hits by Colin Williams (a double) and Nick Reppi restored the Spartans’ earlier margin. Ricky Neuser did the rest, having relieved Brandon Seburn in the fourth as the pair combined for 11 strikeouts and just six hits allowed.
Off until Friday’s game against Auburn, the Spartans returned to the diamond quite refreshed and never let the Maroons get on the board in the course of a 10-0 victory that clinched the Salt City Athletic Conference Empire division regular-season title.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the second, Jacob Bucell’s double put ESM in front to stay, but it didn’t stop there as Nolan Penoyer and Jimmy Griffin drove in runs to double the lead to 4-0.
Reppi drove home Sam Jenkins in the third and the Spartans added three runs in the fourth, plus two runs in the fifth, Penoyer adding an RBI. All the while, Ryan Seburn smothered Auburn’s bats, holding them to one hit and three walks while striking out five.
J-D started its last week of the regular season with a 3-1 victory over Syracuse, which was far from easy as the two sides traded runs in the second inning and stalled from there.
Adam Douglas, pitching for Syracuse, matched the Rams’ Nick Brotzki until the top of the sixth, when J-D scored twice to go in front, the key blow a Murphy Foss single.
It was a lead that Carter Kowalczyk would protect in the seventh inning for the save as Brotzki, Mark Toscano and Logan Wing each scored a run for the Rams.
Following Tuesday’s rainouts, things resumed on Wednesday and J-D, in a rematch with Syracuse, fought hard for a 5-3 victory.
Twice, Syracuse came back, from deficits of 1-0 and 3-1. Both times, J-D answered, using two runs in the fourth and single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to pull it out.
Between them, Kowalczyk and starter A.J. Ortega only allowed one hit and combined for nine strikeouts. Scottie O’Bryan’s pair of hits led to two RBIs as Toscano scored twice, with Brotzki and Luke Smith also scoring runs.
Things were a lot easier on Friday, J-D smashing past Oswego 16-2 in a mercy rule-shortened game that saw the Rams net six runs in the first inning and a season-best 10 runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Smith went three-for-three, while Nolan Giblin’s pair of hits led to three RBIs and three runs scored. O’Bryan also drove in three runs as Foss and Zach Goodson had two RBIs apiece. Toscano scored three runs as Smith, Brotzki, Mateo Santos and Anthony Ciccone each had one RBI.
J-D would finish one game behind ESM in the SCAC Empire division standings, alone in second place, yet both would face a new challenge when the Section III Class A playoffs started.
With the no. 3 seed, ESM would face no. 6 seed Fulton in the quarterfinals, while no. 4 seed J-D hosted no. 5 seed Whitesboro, a rematch of last year’s sectional final won by the Warriors.
As if all that wasn’t enough, Christian Brothers Academy, with its 15-game win streak, held the top seed. Thus, if J-D beat Whitesboro and CBA got past Cortland or New Hartford, those two neighbors would meet in the semifinals.