NEW HARTFORD – It’s been a long, sometimes painful journey for Marcy-Deerfield’s All-Star program. … 22 years to be exact.
The proud and annually talented program finally broke through against their cross-town rivals Friday night with a 4-3 victory over Whitestown in the District 10 Championship Game to claim its first ‘A’ title since 1996.
Andy Pawloski had two hits and scored the game-winning run on Jordan Hughes’ RBI single in the third inning. Matt DeStefanis was dominant in three innings of relief as M-D rallied back from an early 3-0 deficit to dethrone the defending champs.
“It feels a lot better to beat them,” DeStefanis said. “I have a lot of friends on that team and (Whitestown) wins this all the time. This is the first year we’ve won since 1996 and it feels great to bring another banner to Marcy-Deerfield.”
Marcy-Deerfield advances to the sectional play-in game next Thursday. They will face either Plattsburgh or South Jefferson (District 37) at 6 p.m. back at New Hartford Little League Field.
Austin Stoquert had two hits and Tony Dorozynski had a two-run single in the first inning for Whitestown. Brayden Czternastek had a double and was also tremendous in relief for Whitestown, which reached the final by winning six straight games after losing its opener.
The last of their six wins came in Thursday night’s 10-3 domination over M-D that forced Friday’s winner-take-all championship.
It looked like another long day for M-D as Whitestown plated three unearned runs in the top of the first off Pawloski.
Kyle Meier led off by reaching on an error and Stoquert followed with an infield single. Pawloski, who was effectively wild in his three innings, struck out the next two batters and almost got out of the early jam. However, Dorozynski lined a bullet into left field to five Whitestown a 2-0 lead. After walking the next three batters to plate Dorozynski, Pawloski finally got out the jam on a groundout to shortstop Jake Scalise, who had a magnificent defensive game.
Not hanging their heads, M-D quickly answered with two runs in the bottom half as Scalise singled and scored on an error and Pawloski singled and came around to score on a wild pitch to make it 3-2.
“That was huge,” Scalise said of his team bouncing back in the bottom of the first. “It sparked our offense. Coming off a 10-3 loss and getting down early, it was big for us to fight back.”
M-D knotted the game in the second as Dan Obernesser walked, moved to third on a groundout and wild pitch, before scoring on Scalise’s RBI-groundout. An inning later, M-D grabbed its first and only lead in either game as Pawloski doubled to left-center field to lead off the inning and came around to score on Hughes’ soft liner to center.
Pawloski hit three liners in Thursday’s loss but had nothing to show for it. Showing maturity, he realized it’s sometimes the way the game goes and chose not to change his approach in Friday’s deciding game.
“They caught everything I hit yesterday,” Pawloski said. “It wasn’t my fault I went 0-for-three, so I tried to do the same thing and hit line drives and get on base.”
In the top of the fourth Pawloski reached the 85-pitch barrier after walking Meier and giving up a single to Stoquert to begin the fourth. The southpaw finished with seven strikeouts in just three innings of work, but his six walks quickly raised his pitch count.
With two runners on and nobody out, M-D head coach Gary DeStefanis went to his son to get out of the jam.
The younger DeStefanis came through in the clutch, recording a strikeout and then getting Carmen Centro to bounce a hard grounder up the middle that was corralled by Scalise, who ranged to his left, touched the bag and threw to first for the inning-ending double play.
“Jake’s our leader and having him play shortstop the way he did today helped our entire team stay in the game mentally and battle,” Coach DeStefanis said.
Whitestown also got great relief work from Czternastek, who kept M-D’s powerful lineup off balance by mixing in a nice curveball to give his team a chance in the late innings.
“I just tried to pound the zone,” said Czternastek. “I tried to pitch outside, because they couldn’t hit the outside ones. We just tried our best.”
Whitesboro head coach Frank Centro didn’t hesitate to go to Czternastek early in the third inning in relief of starter Dorozynski.
“He pitched very well,” Coach Centro said. “He came in with two runners on and gave up just one run and really kept us in the game.”
Down to their final three outs, Czternastek looked to help his own cause by drilling a leadoff double to left-center that was just out of the reach of a diving Angelo Mosca (CF). That set up the play of the game as Tyler Stivali hit a hard grounder to Scalise, who checked the runner and threw to first. Czternastek broke for third on the throw and Pawloski gunned to Connor Dawes at third base, who put down the tag for an enormous double play.
“It was pretty big,” Pawloski said. “It kind of decided the game.”
Whitestown didn’t go quietly as Meier singled to center and Stoquert drew a walk to put runners on first and second with two out. With Ty Montrose coming to the plate, DeStefanis executed his pitch and induced a high chopper to Dawes, who snared it and touched third for the championship-winning forceout which sent the M-D bench charging onto the field in celebration.
“My confidence kept building as the game went on,” DeStefanis said. “I just started throwing better and harder. When it got down to the last batters I got really confident. The last pitch I threw a curve. He hit it and we got the last out. It felt amazing.”
After the huge double play, Coach DeStefanis was confident his son would be able to finish the job.
“That was the game,” Coach DeStefanis said of the stellar double play in the sixth. “Then Matthew, as usual, had ice in his veins and finished it. He loves those situations when it comes to moments like that. It is a big win for the program. Our first since 1996 … so it’s huge for us.”
Both managers were proud of the way both teams battled and the sportsmanship they showed throughout the tournament, including the well-played championship game.
“I have to give (Marcy-Deerfield) all the credit,” Centro said. “They outplayed us today and made all the plays they needed. But I told our guys after the game that we are so much better as a team than we were when we started. We pitched our way through six strong games and they represented Whitestown, their families and themselves very well. … I’m proud of them.”
The competition between Whitestown and Marcy-Deerfield is comparable to a sibling rivalry. Over the past 22 years, Whitestown has played the role of big brother, winning 11 of their 14 titles since M-D’s last. Several of Whitestown’s titles came at the expense of M-D.
To get over the hump and win this banner against their friends/rivals, especially after falling behind early, is a huge step for Marcy-Deerfield’s program.
“The mentality they came back with as a team and to fight for each other and battle every out shows the character of these boys,” Coach DeStefanis said. “Hats off to Whitestown for battling all the way back from the losers’ bracket. I’m proud to be a part of the Whitesboro School District with Marcy-Deerfield and Whitestown playing in the final. I can’t wait to see what these kids do in the future.”
Note: Thanks to District 10’s Mike Gentile and Nick Panuccio for putting on a great tournament.
Recent District 10 Champions
2016: New Hartford
2013: New Hartford