Not since 2013, when stellar pitching produced a first-ever state championship, had the Baldwinsville baseball team laid claim to the Section III Class AA championship.
Getting there would, at the outset, require the Bees to win twice in a span of 24 hours, a necessity since heavy rains postponed the initial quarterfinal last Tuesday between top-seeded B’ville and no. 8 seed Fayetteville-Manlius.
Having just beaten the Hornets twice the week before, it was tempting for the Bees to not bring forth an all-out effort to advance. But it was needed and, on the day where B’ville’s senior players were honored, it pushed past F-M 5-1.
Jason Savacool took to the mound and immediately began whiffing F-M batters, but for three innings he was matched by Hornets pitcher Christian Maloney as the tension built.
Then, in the bottom of the fourth, the Bees broke through for a run, adding another run in the fifth and then tagging Maloney and his relief replacement, Peter Miller, for three decisive runs to counter F-M’s lone tally in the top of the sixth.
Savacool didn’t stop until he had struck out 16 batters while only allowing three hits. That was the same hit total Pat May got by himself as he scored a run, with Nate Ray getting two hits. Savacool, Jack Andres and Matt Mercurio had one RBI apiece.
Meanwhile, the bracket opened up on the other end as no. 2 seed Cicero-North Syracuse was, for the second year in a row, knocked out early, stunned 8-1 by no. 7 seed Syracuse.
That was as far as Syracuse could go, for it lost Thursday’s semifinal 7-2 to no. 3 West Genesee at Onondaga Community College. Right after that, B’ville took its turn against no. 3 seed Utica Proctor, who had blanked Auburn 12-0 in the quarterfinals.
It never was close as the Bees flattened the Raiders 15-2, setting the stage for a final Sunday night between B’ville and West Genesee.
In their three regular-season meetings, the Wildcats won twice, but it faces the pressure of trying to win a first sectional title in 41 years, a drought far longer than that of B’ville’s as Savocool, if he pitches on short rest, could face WG ace Liam Barry.