CANTON - Better timing carried the Massena Central baseball team past Franklin Academy in the Section 10 Class A Championship Game on Wednesday.
Both pitchers did a great job. Basically, it came down to us having one more triple than they did and us being able to execute a squeeze bunt when we needed to, said coach Greg Paquin after the Raiders successfully defended their sectional title by outlasting the Huskies 2-1 at St. Lawrence Universitys Tom Fay Field.
The opposite turned out to be true for Huskies coach Tim Lamay.
Our Achilles heel this season is that we didnt hit the ball in key situations and that happened to us again today, he said. We knew coming in that we had to show some discipline at the plate and stay off the high stuff but we still had trouble doing that. We played great defense and Jared Moody did a great job on the mound. We just didnt get the hits we needed.
With the win, the Raiders (13-3) earned a return trip to the NYSPHSAA tournament where they will look to erase the memories of a disappointing opening round loss last spring.
This team has put in a lot of hard work since last year and its really paid off for them. Before the start of this year, if you would have told me that we would sweep Malone and split against Potsdam and Ogdensburg, I would have taken it and run with it, noted Paquin.
Massena will open this years state playoffs on Thursday, June 5, against Peru Central which gained an automatic bid as the lone Class A program in Section 7. The first round matchup is slated to be played back at Tom Fay Field starting at 4:30 p.m.
In Wednesdays title game, Massenas Rory Corcoran and Moody set the tone early with their arms. Both were perfect through the first two innings before each allowed their first baserunners with solo walks in the third.
A lead-off single in the top of the fourth by Jordan Yando was the first hit of the game but he would eventually be thrown out at thirdbase in an inning ending double play.
Both teams went down in order in their next at-bats but the Raiders broke through for the first run of the game in the bottom of the fifth. Isaiah Dillabough led-off by delivering an 0-1 pitch to the base of the fence in right-centerfield for the first Massena hit of the game, a stand-up triple. One out later, sophomore Patrick Manning dropped a bunt toward the thirdbase side of the mound. Dillabough was able to race home safely without a throw while Manning beat out the bunt for an infield single.
I got the squeeze sign from coach and I just thought to myself, Ive gotta execute, Manning recalled. I got the bunt down and we got the run and thats all I wanted to do.
We werent surprised by the bunt, added Lamay. That play is coach Paquins bread and butter so we knew it was coming. It was a good bunt and we hod no choice but to surrender the run.
Jake Henning led off the sixth-inning with a single for the Huskies and moved to second on a well-place sacrifice bunt by Jon Brown before Corcoran coaxed a short flyball out and notched his ninth strikeout to end the threat.
The Raiders countered with their second run as Devin Page drew a lead-off walk and promptly raced to second in front of a sacrifice bunt by JP Reagan. Bailey Hewlett then stepped up and launched the first pitch he saw to the same area of deep right center-field for a stand-up RBI-triple. That run would hold up as the game-winner after the Huskies road a similar route to their first run in their final at-bat. Blayke Lewis led-off with a triple to the fence in left-centerfield. He ran home two outs later when a groundball by Tucker Bartenslager led to the only error of the game. Moody replaced Bartenslager on firstbase but was thrown out attempting to steal second to end the game.
Corcoran finished with 10 strikeouts in crafting his complete-game victory, giving up the lone walk while scattering a total of four hits. Rorys our ace and today he was in absolute control of his pitches, noted Paquin.
Moody fanned seven, walked two and gave up just the three hits in taking the hard luck loss as the Huskies closed out the season at 8-8. Austin Lamay singled to account for the other FA hit.
POST-GAME NOTES: Following the Class A game at SLU, Massena senior catcher Connor Paquin was honored as this years recipient of the Jim Pinkerton Memorial Award as the outstanding all-around baseball player in Section 10. The award is presented annually by the league umpires. Paquin was chosen from a list of six finalists that also included Mike Burns of Parishville-Hopkinton, Mitch Keniston of Tupper Lake, Mike Martin and Jack Palmer of Heuvelton and Jacob St. Mary of Brushton-Moira.