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High school baseball: South Lewis uses big inning to win Section 3 title


SYRACUSE — South Lewis had seen so many twists and turns in its last two Section 3 baseball games that the Falcons were prepared for anything in Friday night’s Class C overall championship game.

But what happened in the first 45 minutes against Bishop Grimes at NBT Bank Stadium was even crazier than anything Chad Brown’s team could have imagined.

The Falcons spotted the Cobras three runs in the top of the first inning only to answer with 11 runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. South Lewis eventually held on to earn a 12-9 win and advance to the state playoffs next weekend.

Tuesday night, they trailed 5-1 before rallying to beat Sauquoit Valley in the Class C-1 semifinals. Then they managed only two hits but still had enough to beat Pulaski 3-2 and claim the Class C-1 crown Wednesday.

“I’m not sure how to explain what happened today, ‘’said South Lewis coach Chad Brown, whose Falcons (18-1) play Section 4 champion Binghamton Seton Catholic (14-6) in the Class C regionals at 1 p.m. on June 7 at Onondaga Community College. “All I know is that there is absolutely no quit in those kids. This is the third straight game they’ve faced adversity and come through. You can’t knock them out no matter what happens.’’

South Lewis second baseman Nate Pleskach, who had two hits, including a two-run single, and three runs batted in during the first inning barrage, said the key to the Falcons’ never-say-die attitude is “we all believe in each other and pull for each other. When one guy fails, somebody else is always there to pick him up.’’

Naythan Cobb and Cody Capron, batting seventh and eighth in the order, respectively, each contributed a two-run single in the bottom of the first inning as South Lewis sent 16 batters to the plate and forced two pitching changes by the C-2 champion Cobras.

The Falcons finished with eight hits during that early uprising, and also took advantage of two hits batsmen and a bases-loaded walk. They managed only one hit the rest of the way, but it was plenty enough for South Lewis to earn its second state berth in three seasons.

“To take a shot like that, and come right back and give them a bigger shot, that was huge,” said South Lewis senior Jason Martin, who pitched the final two innings in relief of starter Shawn Loomis. “Momentum is such a big thing in baseball, and we were able to negate theirs right away.”

Brown was hoping Loomis, another senior, would give him three or four innings before going to Martin, his ace who had pitched a complete game Wednesday and two innings of relief on Tuesday. But Loomis gave Brown five innings, allowing a single run in the second and two more in the fourth.

“Shawn’s a battler,” Brown said. “It was obvious he didn’t have his best stuff, but he kept us in the game.”

The first three Grimes batters of the game reached on an infield error, a walk and a single to score a run. Loomis then hit a batter, yielded a RBI single and another run scored on a fielder’s choice.

“It usually takes me a couple innings to find myself,” Loomis said. “But I knew we would come back. Maybe not that much, but that we’d stay in the game.”

Loomis began the South Lewis first by getting hit by Grimes starter Chris Hendrick. Pleskach drove in a run with an infield hit, Nick Kraeger plated another with a bases-loaded walk and Cobb and Capron delivered back-to back hits over the Grimes infield to score four more runs.

Loomis, Martin and Kelly followed with run-scoring singles and Pleskach capped off the outburst with a solid two-run single to right.

“We didn’t hit it hard, but we put the ball in play,” Pleskach said. “After Wednesday, I wasn’t sure if we would come out hitting tonight.”

Martin scored the 12th run by racing all the way home from second on a strikeout and throw to first in the South Lewis third.

Grimes scored three unearned runs in the sixth, courtesy of two Falcon errors. But Martin finished that frame with a strikeout, then struck out two in the seventh, including Tom Steinberg to end the game.

“I was a little sore, but I wanted to close it out,” Martin said. “Now I’ll have all the rest I need.”

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