By BILLY HEYEN
WEBSTER, N.Y. — Webster Thomas had just knotted the game up for the first time all afternoon on a bases-loaded walk. Up to the plate walked Titans’ three-hitter Damian Wright, with three ducks still on the pond. All that was on Wright’s mind, he said postgame, was “don’t strike out.”
He didn’t. Instead, he rolled over and grounded the ball down the third-base line. Wright said he figured the third baseman would just step on the bag for an easy force. So he watched. The ball never reached Fairport’s Omar Rosa, though, instead hitting the third base bag and bounding over him. Two runs scored on the play, the almost culmination to a game-changing sixth inning for Webster Thomas.
“I probably should’ve had my head down running,” Wright said. “I was pretty excited.”
Six runs in the sixth inning brought the Titans back from down three to up three, and they held on in the seventh to pick up a 9-6 win over Fairport at Basket Road Field on Monday. In the five innings prior, Webster Thomas had three runs on four hits. In the sixth, the six runs came on four hits, with five of the six coming with two outs. In the last week of the regular season, Wright said he hopes it gives his team a lot of confidence with sectionals approaching.
Early on, though, it seemed Fairport might run away with it on the road. The Red Raiders put three runs on the board in the first and another in the second. They led 4-1 after two.
Titans head coach Kevin Neenan wasn’t sure his starter, Jadon Masucci, would make it much longer. But then the righthander grinded his way through four more innings, allowing just two more runs. It kept the game within reach and allowed for the Webster Thomas rally in the sixth.
“Sometimes you don’t have your best stuff and you’ve got to keep fighting,” Neenan said. “I thought his offspeed picked up the second part of the game there, finally got that over.”
Jadon Masucci used this curveball to finish a 1-2-3 fifth inning. @ThomasAthletics will bat in bottom five, trailing 6-3. Top of the order due up for the Titans. @PickinSplinters pic.twitter.com/bfLNZAGcFy
— Billy Heyen (@Wheyen3) May 14, 2018
As the game headed to the bottom of the sixth, Fairport’s starter Jake Schuler was looking to keep what had been a mostly clean outing going. But the Titans, without much by way of hard hitting, rallied.
The best hit of the inning drove in Webster Thomas’ fourth run, a rope double to right-center field by Ryan Ogi that scored Caden Hann. There were already two outs at that point. Then came a high chopper to the second baseman that Jacob Canfield beat out for an infield hit. Next came a swinging bunt down the third base line that Steven Minardo reached on for another infield knock.
“We caught a couple breaks,” Neenan said. “Got basically a couple infield hits where the kids lay it on the line and beat it out. If they don’t hustle down the line, then we’re losing that game, 6-3.”
A four-pitch walk to Titans’ leadoff hitter Ryan Hill ended Schuler’s day. The next batter walked as well, to tie the game, and then came Wright’s moment.
Wright was hitless in his first three at bats, albeit with one RBI. Fairport’s Danny Guichard threw strike one with his fastball. A curveball caught the plate for strike two. Wright fouled two balls off down the right side, out of play. And then he found the third-base bag for two RBI. One more RBI walk gave the Titans a three-run lead, and Devin Mulcahy came on to close it out.
“Yeah of course,” Mulcahy said of feeling the tension. “I mean I kind of like the pressure, but it’s kind of scary sometimes.”
The junior walked the first two hitters he faced. But then he induced a swinging strikeout, which he followed with a fist pump. Then a popup to the first baseman in foul territory brought the second out.
Finally, with two outs and two on, the tying run at the plate and two strikes, Mulcahy hurled a strike for the final out of the game. Mulcahy leapt in the air, doing a 180 degree spin as he pumped his fist more vigorously. He’d ensured the comeback wouldn’t go to waste.
“These are the type of games that we need to get ourselves ready for sectionals,” Neenan said. “To get a comeback win against a program like Fairport is huge for us.”