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High school baseball: Beaver River tops Sandy Creek to reach Class C-2 final

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SYRACUSE — Beaver River’s formula for baseball success this season has been quite simple.

Take solid pitching, add in consistent defense and mix in some key hits at opportune times and you have the makings of a winner. The Beavers displayed all three Tuesday during a 5-2 come-from-behind victory over Sandy Creek in the Section 3 Class C-2 semifinals at NBT Bank Stadium.

The win gives top-seeded Beaver River (15-3), the defending C-2 and overall Class C champions, a spot in today’s 4:30 p.m. title game at DeLutis Field in Rome. The Beavers will play second-seeded Bishop Grimes (14-2), a 3-1 winner over Weedsport in Tuesday’s second semifinal.

The Beavers managed just three hits off Sandy Creek pitchers Zach Brown and Jarod Williams. But two came during a five-run sixth inning, including a leadoff triple by Brett Neddo and a key two-run single from Kaelyn Ferguson.

Beaver River starter Kyle Steiner gave his club 5 1/3 solid innings, allowing only a single run in the top of the fifth. Christian Widrick went the final 2 2/3 innings, yielding a run in the top of the seventh.

And the Beavers played flawless defense, including a superb throw by centerfielder Dustin Neddo that nailed a Sandy Creek runner at the plate in the Comets’ fifth to prevent another run from scoring.

“We’ve preached the fundamentals, and the kids have worked hard to make them work,’’ said Beaver River coach Don Neddo, who took over two games into the season and has guided the Beavers to eight straight victories. “And I told them that just because we beat Sandy Creek easily twice, this game was going to be a lot closer.’’

Beaver River won 13-5 and 13-0 during the Frontier League “C” Division season. But fifth-seeded Sandy Creek, which had won six of its last seven and upset No. 4 Fabius-Pompey 11-1 in the quarterfinals, would not go down easily this time.

Brown handcuffed the Beaver batters with his sharp-breaking curve ball. He allowed a first inning single to Erik Lyndaker then held the Beavers hitless until the sixth. At one point, Brown retired 10 in a row.

“He threw a lot of junk, and we were way out in front most of the time,” Ferguson said.

After leading the bases loaded in the top of the fourth, Sandy Creek gave Brown a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth. Cameron Hall led off with a walk, Reis Harding singled and Williams delivered an RBI single.

But Harding was gunned down at the plate by Dustin Neddo on Brown’s fly ball to center field in what turned into the biggest out of the game for the Beavers.

“If they get that run, then it’s an entirely different game,” said coach Neddo. “A two-run deficit in a game like that is huge.”

Brett Neddo, Dustin’s younger brother, blooped a triple down the right field line to start the Beaver River sixth inning. Dustin Neddo walked, and Sandy Creek coach Mike Stevens brought in Williams to relieve Brown.

Lyndaker then hit a high chopper down the third base line that was not fielded cleanly, allowing Brett Neddo to score. After another walk to Steiner, Ferguson came up with the big hit the Beavers had been waiting for, a solid single to left, scoring two big runs.

“He’d thrown maybe one fastball during that at-bat,” Ferguson said. “But on 3-2, I was looking fastball all the way and it was right down the middle.”

Troy Purcell plated the fifth run with a sacrifice fly, and a throwing error by Williams allowed the fifth Beaver River run to score.

A walk, Tyler Doe’s double and a ground out made it 5-2 in the top of the seventh. But Widrick, who will get the start today, struck out the final two Comets to preserve the victory.

“Christian didn’t throw that many pitches today so he’ll be good to go,” Don Neddo said. “He’d take the ball every day if I let him.”

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