Syracuse – The Whitesboro Warriors captured the 2019 Section 3, Class A Baseball Championship on Sunday evening, following an 11 inning 3-2 win over Jamesville-DeWitt, at Onondaga County Community College.
The Warriors, who entered the postseason as the #4 seed, rode the arm (and intestinal fortitude) of senior Avery Cook, who pitched 8 and 1/3 innings of shutout baseball, striking out seven and allowing just two hits before being relieved by fellow senior, Bryce Gnatek, who eventually picked up the win over 3rd-seeded J-D.
Cook was masterful on the mound, especially showing great poise in two separate innings working out of two-on, no-out situations, with the help of some outstanding defensive plays all around the diamond by the Warriors, but several from senior shortstop Joey Panuccio, including gunning down J-D’s would be game winning run at home plate in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Whitesboro finally broke through with two runs in the top of the 10th when Cook drew a leadoff walk and was driven home by a triple off the bat of Ryan Cardone. Joey Crossley then knocked Cardone in with a single to give the Warriors a two run advantage, finally cracking the fine pitching performance of Red Rams pitcher A.J. Ortega.
J-D’s Nolan Giblin tied things up in the bottom of the 10th inning, when the senior third baseman drilled a one out triple, scoring Bobby Galusha and Matt Alexander. Then J-D’s Nick Brotski stepped in and slapped a ground ball to shortstop, which was fielded cleanly by a charging Panuccio, who threw Giblin out at the plate for the second out of the inning and ending the J-D threat.
After “Joeys” Ruggiero and Panuccio drew back-to-back two-out walks in the top of the 11th inning for Whitesboro, Cook stepped in and rapped a single to left field, scoring Ruggiero and giving Whitesboro a 3-2 lead, which is the way the clubs would go to the home half of the 11th.
Bryce Gnatek got J-D to pop up three times in the bottom of the 11th, the last of which was a diving stab in foul territory by Cook, who stayed in the game at first base and the the Warriors held on for the title.
Gnatek got the win on the mound, working 2 and 2/3 innings, allowing 2 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits and striking out 1.
Whitesboro, which improves to (14-4) on the season, will meet the winner of Section 2 (Ballston Spa) and Section 10 (Massena), next Saturday at either Salmon River or Amsterdam at 1 p.m., in the NYSPHSAA Regional.
Jamesville Dewitt finishes its season at (16-4).