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Adirondack ends Westmoreland's undefeated season to win Class C title

Steve Jones
Sports writer
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Posted 6/1/22

The Adirondack baseball team finally got its record above .500 this season — by stopping the undefeated top seed Westmoreland ...

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Adirondack ends Westmoreland's undefeated season to win Class C title

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SYRACUSE — The Adirondack baseball team finally got its record above .500 this season — by stopping the undefeated top seed Westmoreland 6-2 in the Section III Class C title game Tuesday night at Onondaga Community College.

The Wildcats stormed through the bracket as the 11-seed, knocking off six-seed Cooperstown, third seeded Pulaski and 10-seed Bishop Ludden to get to the finals. The team was 8-11 at the end of the regular season. They started off 0-5. Now they're 8-1 in their last nine games.

Tuesday night they got their third shot at the Bulldogs, having lost 11-0 early in the season then 11-8 at home May 7. Those were two of Westmoreland's 19 wins on the season.

They also did one other thing no team had done to Westmoreland this season: hold them under four runs. The Bulldogs had scored an average of over 12 runs per game this season.

"We had a tough start to the year, but this was a total team effort," said Adirondack head coach Phil Puleo after the win. The Wildcats won a Class B title in 2018, the last season before he took over the varsity program. Before that he was the junior varsity coach. He said the players' message once they got to the post-season was: "We're not leaving here until we won it, and the boys meant it." He said they wanted another shot at Westmoreland. "They're not scared to play anyone. And we're not done. Keep the season alive. Get these seniors another practice."

The coach summed it all up: "It feels amazing."

Westmoreland started the game doing what the Bulldogs do, which is score in the first inning. Caleb Miller singled with one out and then after he'd stolen second Jerry Fiorini was hit by a pitch. With the runners on the move with two outs, starting pitcher Colin White skipped a pitch past catcher Brett Sanford and Miller raced home, sliding in safely to make it 1-0.

White said after that game that the team didn't panic after giving up the early run. "We just had to keep hitting." He also noted, "It's hard to beat a team three times in a row." White, who didn't pitch in either of the team's losses to Westmoreland, said, "I think we were getting sharper and sharper as we went on."

Adirondack answered immediately, taking the lead for itself. Jake Khouri got on with a fielder's choice then Bailey Gleasman singled. Issac Croniser singled in Khouri to tie the game. Then Gabe Cihocki laid down a bunt to get Gleasman in from third. The Wildcats led 2-1 going into the bottom of the second inning.

And after getting out of a jam, Adirondack went back to work on offense in the third inning. Alex Kaun led off with a single. Kreedon Rogers bunted and an errant throw to second by Miller was just a bit high and into centerfield, advancing Kaun to third. White then ripped a single into left field to drive in Kaun for a 3-1 lead. Rogers came in on a throwing error later in the inning.

Sanford said after the game that the team knew four runs might not be enough. "It's tough. We know they can put up runs." He said White had to have his best stuff, and he did. And with that lead, "All the pressure is on them." As the game wore on, he said, Westmoreland's players "were down, counting themselves out. So we had to add on a few runs."

Neither team scored again until the seventh inning, when Adirondack padded its lead. White led off with a triple to the wall in right center. After an out, Khouri singled through a drawn in infield to make it 5-1. After he stole second, Gleasman singled into shallow centerfield. A throwing error later allowed Cihocki to reach base with two outs, and Khouri scored to make it 6-1.

The Bulldogs tried to rally but could only muster one run. Mike Scalise and Owen Davison had singled to start the inning. After a walk to Carson Nestved, Adirondack went to Sanford, the team's closer. He took over with no outs and the bases loaded. After a strike out, Scalise scored on a wild pitch to cut the lead to four. But the comeback attempt ended there. Sanford struck out two more batters to seal the deal.

White earned the win, going six-plus innings and allowing two earned runs on seven hits and four walks. He struck out nine. Sanford walked one batter and struck out the other three he faced in relief.

"He's thrown great all year," Puleo said of White. He said he had good location and his curveball was on. "He's just a competitor." White said he ran out of gas at the end, "and there's a lot of pressure on you." He threw 112 pitches on the night. But, he said, he was confident knowing he was handing the ball off to Sanford.

"I love Colin when he pitches," said Sanford. "He throws with a lot of energy. He's our ace."

Miller took the loss in a complete game effort, having thrown a complete game in the semifinals Saturday night as well. He allowed six runs, four of them earned. He surrendered nine hits and walked one. He struck out eight.

Adirondack will move on to the regional round. They'll play Section IV's Lansing at 6 p.m. Saturday at OCC.

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