By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
SOUTHPORT, N.Y. — Defensive plays have been known to turn the tide in games, and Waverly senior center fielder Colby Sindoni made one of those plays here Thursday, gunning down the would-be go-ahead run at the plate, and propelling the Wolverines to a 3-1 win over Notre Dame in a IAC Division 3 playoff.
Waverly, now 11-6, will square off with Lansing Tuesday at Tompkins-Cortland Community College. The winner will play Division 2 champion Edison Wednesday at TC3 for the IAC title. (Division 1 champion Marathon withdrew from the playoffs.)
“This is a good win,” said Waverly coach Kyle McDuffee. “Notre Dame is a good team, and this is not an easy place to win.”
It’s McDuffee’s ninth division title in 17 years as head coach.
“One of our goals every year is to win our division,” he said. “We’ve had some growing pains this year with such a young team, so this title is a little more satisfying. It’s been a lot of fun watching these kids grow.”
Eric Charnetski stroked a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the first inning, but that’s all the offense the Crusaders would muster against Waverly freshman ace Caden Hollywood, who allowed just one more hit before hitting the pitch limit with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“(Caden Hollywood) is only a freshman, and he came up big in a real pressure spot,” said McDuffee.
Waverly tied the game in the third inning. Junior Jalen McCarty worked a one-out walk, stole second, and scored on a two-out throwing error.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Crusaders loaded the bases with one out on a pair of walks, and an error. Charnetski appeared to give them the lead with a fly ball to centerfield, but Sindoni got his momentum moving forward on the catch, and fired a dart to the plate, where senior Montana Davis hauled it in and tagged out the runner to end the inning.
“Colby made a nice play,” said McDuffee. “It was a strong one-hop throw, and Montana (Davis) did a nice job with the tag. It was a great throw, and a big play.”
“When you get a good defensive play like that, something good usually happens in your next at-bat,” noted McDuffee. “You could feel the momentum shift.”
The Wolverines, who left four runners in scoring position in the first five innings, took the lead in the top of the sixth inning.
Davis led off the inning with a hard groundball single up the middle, and scored two pitches later when junior Ethan Stotler rifled an RBI triple down the right-field line to give the Wolverines a 2-1 lead.
With one out, Hollywood helped his own cause with a line-drive RBI double into right-centerfield to extend the lead to 3-1.
“Stotler’s triple down the line was the big play offensively for us,” said McDuffee.
“We’ve been working with him going to the opposite field,” noted McDuffee. “He made the adjustments and got a big hit. He’s very coachable, and I’m proud of him.”
Hollywood retired the Crusaders in order on four pitches in the home half of the sixth inning, but he needed three good defensive plays behind him to do it.
Seventh-grader Jay Pipher made the first play at third base, moving to his left and making a strong throw for the first out.
Next, a ground ball skipped past Hollywood, and 7th-grader Joey Tomasso, at second base, made a bare-hand play and throw for the second out. Tomasso then hauled in a soft liner with a leaping grab in the outfield grass for the third out.
“Jay Pipher made a nice play, and Joey Tomasso made two big plays, especially the grab on the liner,” said McDuffee. “Those guys are no longer 7th-graders in my mind.”
In the bottom of the seventh, Hollywood walked the lead-off batter, then a pop-up into short right field, clanked off Tomasso’s glove, but he alertly collected it and fired to second base for the force out.
After Hollywood recorded a strikeout, he was lifted due to hitting the pitch-count limit. Sindoni relieved and induced a fly ball to short right field, where Pipher, who moved from third base on the pitching switch, hauled it in for the final out.
Hollywood fanned six and walked five in 6 2/3 innings, allowing an unearned run on two hits to earn the win.
Stotler tripled and singled, scored one run, and drove in one run, while Hollywood doubled and drove in one run, Davis singled and scored one run, and Tomasso added a single.
IN PHOTO 1: Waverly’s Caden Hollywood. … PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.
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