The Baldwinsville baseball team celebrates its 1-0, nine-inning victory over Baldwnsville in Sunday's Section III Class AA final at Onondaga Community College. It's the Bees' first sectional title since 2013.
When Pat May, having crossed home plate, disappeared under a pile of celebrating Baldwinsville baseball players Sunday night at Onondaga Community College, the feeling was as much relief as it was unbridled joy.
Still, as May put it, “it was a great feeling”, and beat the alternative.
For only after nine tense, excruciating innings of a Section III Class AA championship game no one who witnessed it would soon forget did the Bees emerge with a 1-0 victory over West Genesee.
It was the Bees’ first sectional title since it won a state crown in 2013. At the same time, it prolonged the agony of Wildcats players and fans that had not seen a WG baseball side claim a sectional championship for 41 long years.
Most of what made this game so great and so stressful, for partisans on both sides, was the incredible pitching efforts put together by Bees sophomore Jason Savacool and Wildcats senior Liam Barry.
Through eight scoreless frames, Savacool and Barry matched each other, at times breezing through the innings, other times getting into trouble and finding a way out of it.
Savacool put the first two hitters he faced on base, but then retired 13 in a row. Barry didn’t have that kind of string, yet was just as successful snuffing out possible B’ville threats, especially from the fourth inning onward.
Twice, Savacool made particularly memorable escapes. One came in the top of the sixth inning as Connor Macko doubled and then went to third on a wild pitch.
With two out, the Bees intentionally walked Matt Kot, who hit a deep fly ball to the center-field wall that Cam Williams ran down two innings earlier. Then, with Joe Comins at the plate, a pitch got a few steps away from catcher Nate Ray, but Macko raced home – only to get tagged by Savacool to end the inning.
It got just as stressful in the top of the eighth. With one out, Macko and Chris Bonacci singled, and when a cautious Savacool walked Kot with two out, the bases were loaded.
But Savaccol struck out Comins swinging, and added an 11th strikeout in the top of the ninth before walking Timmy Winn. Here, Jacob Marsahall relived Savacool and, with Winn on second, struck out Dan Purcell and pinch-hitter Gavin Leahy.
Meanwhile, Barry had not reached his maximum playoff count of 125 pitches while keeping B’ville off the board. In the eighth, a dropped fly ball and groundout put Matt Mercurio on third with the winning run, but Jack Andres struck out and Frankie Levanti flew out to right.
Barry was still out there to start the bottom of the ninth. With one out, May singled, his second hit of the night, which brought Savacool to the plate.
Staying aggressive on the base paths, the Bees sent May, and he stole second. Then, on a 3-1 count, the pitch by Barry slipped out of Macko’s glove.
May said he heard Savacool yell at him to stay at second and not try to run, but on his own he decided to take off for third. That drew a throw from Macko – which flew into left field, and May turned and raced home with the sectional championship-winning run.
Despite reaching his pitch limit, Savacool said his arm felt great and he was ready to pursue the same state title his brother, Josh, won with B’ville five years ago.
To get it, the Bees will need to win Saturday’s Class AA regional final against the Section II champions Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Joe Bruno Stadium in Troy. The winner there advances to the June 8-9 state final four at Union-Endicott High School, near Binghamton.