By Paul Casey Gotham
WEBSTER, N.Y. — It was a fitting end. Corey Goeggleman (Waynesburg St.), who had just entered the game as defensive replacement, leapt into the air and snared the line drive off the bat of Max Casper (North Dakota St.). When his feet returned to the ground, the second baseman alertly moved to double-up Ralph Alloco (Canisius College) at second base.
Another rally snuffed out by the Webster defense. This one being the last and punching the home nine’s ticket to the championship series.
Nick Flemister (Clark) paced a 13-hit attack, and Ryan Wilkinson (Toledo) battled for the win as the Webster Yankees defeated the Geneva Red Wings 5-2 at Basket Road Field to advance to the New York Collegiate Baseball League championship series.
After posting single runs in the first two innings, the pinstripes put three across in the third to take a commanding 5-1 advantage in the West Division Championship.
Flemister led with an infield single in the hole between shortstop and third base. Two outs later, Kevin Spatkowski (So. New Hampshire) went to the opposite field with a single to right. Kevin Johnson (Pittsburgh) plated Flemister with a drive a into the gap in left-center field. Ben Bostick (St.John Fisher) kept the rally alive with a hit through the left side of the infield scoring Spatkowski. Dan Bick (Georgia College) capped the scoring with a bloop hit that neatly fell between three converging Red Wing fielders and bounded over the fence down the right field line for a ground-rule double.
The pinstripes defense made the lead stand.
Jake Chaplin Haverford), Geneva’s hero from Friday night, led the fourth with an infield base hit. He was erased when Spatkowski stabbed a hard-hit ball off the bat of Brian Sullivan (Clark) and started an around-the horn double play to Johnson and Jake Montgomery (Young Harris).
Geneva threatened again in the sixth combining to load the bases with three consecutive hits off Wilkinson. It appeared the threat was averted when the southpaw induced a ground ball from Sullivan. But heavy top spin on the ball and the distraction of a runner handcuffed Bick at shrtstop, and Kevin Knack (Oneonta State) came home with Geneva’s second run.
The Red Wings looked poised to tie the game with Dave Saluga (Youngstown St.) coming to the dish. The left-hander entered play Saturday with 12 RBI in his last seven games. Wilkinson fooled Saluga with a breaking ball for the strike out.
“That was big,” said Head Coach Dave Brust. “Wilky never stopped battling.”
With a right-hander coming to the plate and bases loaded, Brust called on Jon Massad (So. New Hampshire) from the bullpen, and the sophomore wasted no time. On Massad’s first pitch, A.J. DeMarco (Toledo) lifted a fly ball into right field that Luis Diaz (North Carolina Central) settled under as Evan Mansell (Freed-Hardeman) tagged from third. Diaz made the catch, took two quick strides and one-hopped a strike to Flemister at home for the inning-ending double play.
“It was do or die,” Diaz said of the game-changing moment. “I have been waiting for a chance to gun down a runner from right.”
Webster’s defense turned four double plays on the evening with Spatkowski having a hand in two of the plays.
“Kevin Spatkowski was outstanding,” Brust commented. “He saved our butts.”
In the third, Spatkowski stemmed a possible tide when he snared a line drive off the bat of Leon Stimpson (Alvernia) and doubled-up Scott Shields (Cal. State East Bay) at first.
Webster put a run on the board in each of the first two innings. Montgomery brought home Diaz with a two-out single to left to start the scoring.
In the second, Bick worked a bases-load walk delivering Spatkowski.
Wilkinson struck out two in five and a third innings for the win.
Massad struck out one while allowing two runners in an inning and two-thirds of shutout ball.
Jaz Rakkar (Stony Brook) continued his dominance of the Red Wings in the post-season pitching a scoreless eighth. Rakkar hurled four shutout stanzas in Webster’s game one victory using a combination of fastballs and off-speed pitches. Saturday night’s appraoch was simpler.
“I knew I was getting just one inning,” Rakkar noted. “I was just going for outs.”
Johnson worked the ninth for the save. The Webster native also had two hits, a walk, a run scored and an RBI.
“It was awesome,” Johnson said. “They are our biggest rival. When we go out there to play them it is always fun with their bleacher creatures.”
The win ended a three-game series where the outcome always seemed in doubt. Geneva used an eight-inning comeback in game two and the Red Wings never relented in the series finale.
“I am happy this series went three games,” said Geneva Head Coach Dave Herbst. “It was great for the teams and great for the fans. This is a rivalry.”
Flemister finished with three hits. Diaz, Johnson, Montgomery and Spatkowski had two apiece. Spatkowski crossed the plate twice, and Bick drove in a pair.
Chaplin led the Red Wings with three hits.
Webster will take on the Oneonta Outlaws who advanced by defeating the Utica Brewers. Game one of the championship series is Monday night at Basket Road Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.