By ANTHONY SCOTT
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Syracuse Junior Chiefs found themselves trailing by one run in the eighth inning to the Sherrill Silversmiths. The Jr. Chiefs were threatening with men on first and second and two outs. Silversmith coach, Jim Hegmann went to his bullpen and brought in hard throwing righty, Junior Bautista (Keystone). The J-Chiefs bats were silenced from there.
Sherrill defeated Syracuse 6-5 in New York Collegiate Baseball League action at Onondaga Community College. The loss snapped the Jr. Chiefs five-game win streak and ended all hopes of claiming first in the Eastern Division.
Bautista was back on the hill for the ninth and sealed the deal on the four-out save. The senior allowed two hits and struck out a pair of hitters on his way to the save.
“I was just trying to do my job, come in and throw strikes,” Bautista said. “I was under pressure, and was able to settle down and get them out.”
The Sherrill Silversmiths struck first in the game with two runs in the third inning. After two men got aboard via hit by pitch and an infield single, Mackay Williams (Fort Scott CC) punched a single through the right side off the infield to score one run. The Smitties added another run later in the inning to make it 2-0.
Junior Chief starter, Jimmy Skiff (Purdue Calumet) was untouchable for the rest of his time on the hill. He allowed just two runs and struck out five hitters through five innings.
The Junior Chiefs bounced right back and manufactured a couple runs to tie the game a two in the fourth inning.
Then a rare balk occured in the bottom of the fifth. This balk was costly as runners were at the corners at the time and the Junior Chiefs brought home that runner from third, to take the lead 3-2. Syracuse stranded the runner on second.
The Silversmiths were able to pounce on the Jr. Chief bullpen once Skiff exited the game. Michael Pelos (California-San Diego) laced a double down the first base line then came around to score on a wild pitch to tie the game at three.
In the bottom half of the sixth Syracuse regained the lead after Sherrill walked in a run. The Jr. Chiefs were leading 4-3 heading into the seventh.
After a leadoff walk was surrendered by the Syracuse bullpen, Silversmith left fielder Michael Villa (Lackawanna) singled. The throw in from the outfield was wild and a runner scored to bring the score back to even. Later in the inning Williams collected his second RBI of the night as he singled to right field to give his team a 5-4 lead. The Fort Scott sophomore came around to score on a wild pitch to make it 6-4.
Williams finished his night going 2-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored.
“I’m seeing the ball well, just trying to help the team win,” Williams said. “I was sitting breaking ball and fouled it off, then was jammed on a fastball, and it fell for a hit.”
Syracuse scored a run in the seventh to pull themselves within one, and had the bases loaded with one out looking for more. However, Silversmith reliever Austin Perry stood tall and got the final batter of the inning to pop up and end the inning. The Silversmiths held onto their 6-5 lead.
Bautista took over from there.
“When we got guys on, we were pushing the action with hit and runs,” Hegmann said. “These last two games mean everything to me, we will be competitive and battle like every other night.”
“(This loss) doesn’t really worry me, we were resting a couple guys,” Jr. Chief coach Joe Antonio said. “We’re just trying to get our bullpen some work and our starters a rest.”
Cortland clinched the division title on Friday so the Junior Chiefs will officially be in the wild card game as the two seed against the Syracuse Salt Cats. Before that happens, the two teams will meet on Saturday and Sunday to end the regular season. Both games are scheduled to start at 7:00P.M.
For the Silversmiths they conclude their season with two games against the Rome Generals. Sherrill hosts Saturday’s contest. A 5 p.m. first pitch is slated.