In a pressure-packed championship game situation, the Baldwinsville baseball team gets a nearly flawless effort from its pitching ace and, with a single run produced by the efforts of one of his teammates, claims a title.
The Bees, in defeating Columbia 1-0 in Saturday night’s Class AA regional final at Joe Bruno Stadium in Troy, relied on the exact same formula that produced an epochal Section III final win over West Genesee six days earlier.
Granted, it didn’t take extra innings like it did with the Wildcats, but B’ville still got the shutout from sophomore right-hander Jason Savacool and the timely offense from Pat May to subdue the Blue Devils.
Back on Sunday night, in the wake of the sectional final victory, Savacool said his arm felt fine despite reaching his 125-pitch limit in 8 1/3 innings before Jacob Marshall got two outs in relief.
Fully rested, Savacool went after Columbia on a festive occasion. It was Columbia’s prom night and some of the attendees came to Troy in full dress to watch the game before heading to their ball.
Whether dressed up or casual, or whether cheering for Columbia in blue or B’ville in red, they saw a command performance from Savacool – and it was needed.
All through the first four innings, Savacool easily turned back the Blue Devils’ hitters, but Columbia’s own sophomore starting pitcher, Carmen Erno, matched him.
B’ville’s best early threat came in the second, when it loaded the bases, only to have Erno work out of it, the score staying 0-0 through the next two frames as well.
Then, with two out in the fifth, the Bees got what it needed.
Jack Andres singled, and moved to second when Erno hit Nate Ray. That brought up May, whose single, stolen base and memorable dash home produced the winning run in the ninth inning against West Genesee.
With a timely swing, May drilled a single to center field, allowing Andres to race home with the go-ahead run, and the only run that Savacool needed.
Through the fifth and sixth innings, Savacool kept putting up zeroes, only allowing three hits overall and setting up a seventh inning and one more Columbia opportunity.
Danny Watson, a Virginia Commonwealth-bound senior who had pitched in the Section II final and relieved Erno in this game, tossing two scoreless innings, singled and reached second base with a steal.
When a bunt attempt missed moments later, Watson drifted off second base – and Ray threw to second, where May tagged Watson out. Savacool’s 11th strikeout followed to end the game.
As regional champions, B’ville returns to the same state final four where it won it all in 2013. Here, the Bees will meet Section V champion Victor in the state semifinals Friday at 5 p.m. at Union-Endicott High School, the winner going to Saturday’s 1 p.m. final at Binghamton University against Massapequa or Horseheads.
B’ville is the only Section III baseball team to get this far. All of the other four sectional champions – East Syracuse Minoa (Class A), Adirondack (Class B), Little Falls (Class C) and Oriskany (Class D) – lost their regional finals.