Photos and video by STEVE HARRISON, story by JOHN ANDERSON
Once again, Hornell was down to its last three outs in the bottom of the seventh and the season on the line.
Trailing Waterloo in the Section V Class B1 finals, 5-4 in the seventh, the speedy Gennaro Picco beat out a hit to shortstop to start the inning. Jacob Ponticello ripped an opposite field blast to right-center. Picco flew to third and on a gutsy decision, Hornell coach Joe Flint sent Picco home and Picco slid past the catcher to tie the game up.
Meanwhile, Ponticello, dancing off first base, drew a throw that got past the first baseman and Ponticello raced to third. The play tied the game at 5-5.
Senior Shawn Rose then crushed a flyball to deep center and Ponticello tagged up and scored the winning run, setting off a celebration into the outfield.
With the 6-5 win, No. 4 Hornell (13-5) will take on No. 2 Pal-Mac (19-2), who downed No. 1 Livonia, 5-4.
Story continues after video interviews:
Hornell coach Joe Flint said coming from behind has become a rallying cry for the team.
“When we called them aside and we were down, we’ve had a theme all year, ‘we score late.’ That’s our mantra sn they know it, we score late,” Flint said. “And they seem to come through every time. But hey, I’d like to take a lead and and hold it for once!”
Flint said Waterloo (No. 7 seed at 7-13) was better than their record indicated.
“They played some really good tems and tight scores this year. We knew they had more than their record,” Flint said. “We had a hard time with their pitcher. He wasn’t overwhelming fast, we were a little out in front, just couldn’t square it up, so it just took a little bit.”
Hornell’s seniors will now go to the Section V finals luncheon on Friday at the Cobblestone Country Club in Victor. Then the Hornell and Pal-Mac finals game on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Dwyer Stadium in Batavia.
In the Class B2 finals, No. 3 Bath Haverling (9-9) takes on No. 4 Penn Yan (9-11) also at 4 p.m. and in Hornell at Maple City Park.
“We have two days of practice and we get to take all the seniors to a luncheon in Victor, so we are going to take the next two days and enjoy it.
Ponticello said the team felt they would win.
“We were on the edge of our seats, you are ready to go, see what the next pitch is, who will make the next play, who will get on base,” the Hornell catcher said.
Ponticello had confidence in the seventh as well despite being down by one.
“Bottom of 7th? I was thinking ‘Picco is going to get to third and Shawn is going to knock him in, we’re going to tie this game 5-5 and find a way to win in the bottom of the 7th.’ We are going to keep on rolling and keep on scoring like we have all season,” he said.
During his post-game interview with the Hornell Sun, Ponticello, a senior, kept looking back at the field, knowing this was it, his last game at Maple City Park after years of modified, JV, Babe Ruth and varsity.
“The camaraderie from this team too is just unreal. We are like a brotherhood, we’ve grown up playing ball together, I couldn’t think of a sweeter way to finish than with a win on this field,” Ponticello said. “This game is up there in the top 3. We had so much grind and determination. We built everything up from scratch after losing our head coach.”
The Red Raiders earned the victory despite allowing Waterloo to score four runs in the fourth inning. Waterloo singled with the bases loaded and a throw home went to the backstop, then another throw to the plate allowed all four runs to score on the play.
The Red Raiders scored in the first on a RBI single by Gennaro Picco.
After the Tigers scored one run in the top of the sixth, Hornell answered with one of their own.
Waterloo scored when Rogers singled on a 3-2 count, scoring one run.Andy Davis was the winning pitcher for Hornell, as he threw seven innings, struck out seven, allowing five runs on seven hits and striking out seven.
Senior Casey Burcroff took the loss for Waterloo. The lefty surrendered two runs on one hit over one inning, striking out two and walking one. He also had a hit.
Hornell had eight hits overall as Charlie Oyer (two runs, RBI) and Gates Miller (two doubles, run RBI) each had multiple hits for Hornell. Wyatt Argentieri and Davis also had hits.
Steve Harrison photos:
From Pickin’ Splinters:
No. 3 LIVONIA (14-7) 4
No. 2 PALMYRA-MACEDON (19-2) 5
Palmyra-Macedon scored two runs in the fourth to regain the lead and advance to the sectional finals.
Christian Morrison drove in the tying run with an RBI single and came around to score the game-winning run on a wild pitch. Livonia would strand the tying run at third in the sixth inning.
Noah Brooks led the Red Raiders offense going 3-for-4 with a double, a triple and a run. Isiah Stephens had a hit and drove in a pair of runs. Brady Prebalick also had one hit and a run. Ian Goodness struck out 12 over 6.2 innings on the mound and walked three times and scored a run at the plate for the Red Raiders.
Connor Benitez led Livonia going 2-for-3 with an RBI while also striking out 11 over 5.1 innings on the mound. Luke Fasso and Aiden O’Keefe each tripled while Fasso scored. Zachary Williamson and Jack Kearney each had a hit and drove in a run for the Bulldogs.
Connor Feehan and Tom Stewart both singled and Stewart scored a run.