Columbia’s baseball season was halted Tuesday by a killer Bee with a soft touch.
Scott Orr pitched a three-hitter, and Baldwinsville scored early for the crafty lefty in a 6-1 Class AA regional win at the Plumeri Sports Complex.
The Bees put three runs on the board in the top of the first inning and added another in the second, and the Blue Devils spent the rest of their first state quarterfinal game since 2009 trying to catch up.
“We were unable to wait and go with the pitch,” Columbia coach Chris Dedrick said. “We were letting it fly open.”
With a smooth but far from overpowering effort, Orr struck out four, including the last batter he faced, walked none and hit a batter while running his personal log to 6-1. The husky senior sent down the first six batters he faced and had another string of six in a row before Ryan Henchey tripled down the right field line with two down in the last of the seventh.
“It could have helped earlier in the game,” Henchey, Columbia’s senior catcher, said of his triple. “We didn’t have our best game today. I’m not going to lie. We just didn’t have our best game.”
Tim Gaule homered in the fifth for the lone Columbia (18-5) run, his shot to left bouncing off the top of the fence and over. Ian Castle led off the third with Columbia’s first hit, a single.
“My game is to throw two-seamers, let them hit it, and have my defense make plays,” said Orr, who consistently got ahead in the count. “People talk about all the runs we score, but we’ve got a great defense, too. We firmly believe we have to best defense in our section.”
Baldwinsville (Section III, 20-3) didn’t make an error, rapped out 10 hits to Columbia’s three, and with the six runs pushed its postseason total to 53 in four games. Columbia made a pair of errors, each costing the Blue Devils a run.
“They played a fine game. They put the ball in play. They made us field the ball. They stole bases,” said Dedrick of the state’s No. 2-ranked team. “We couldn’t get into our game.”
“We needed to start putting hits together. It just didn’t come today,” said Gaule, the Blue Devils’ senior first baseman. “It’s tough losing this after what happened this weekend. That’s baseball.”
Gaule was referring to Columbia’s thrilling 3-2, nine-inning win over Shenendehowa in the Section II title game. Columbia edged Guilderland and Ballston Spa by a run in two sectional wins before, and staged several regular season comebacks en route to the Suburban Council South Division championship.
“The way I look at this game
today is it does not define who we are. We’re a fine team,” said Dedrick. “Not too many teams have been able to to come together like this team. They’re great kids and they got through a lot to get here.”
“We played great all year,” said Henchey.
The Bees were better Tuesday and got the jump with four consecutive one-out hits in the first against Rip Van Winkle, including RBI singles by Connor Martin and Zach Leo, while another run crossed on an error.
“With us getting three runs in the first, it took a lot of pressure off me,” said Orr. “I just stayed with my plan, and they were aggressive. That played into my game.”
“They had two line drives and a couple of balls found a couple of holes,” said Dedrick. “Any time you can score early, it’s huge.”
Josh Demoski’s RBI single in the second made it 4-0. Baldwinsville padded its advantage in the fourth with runs on a bases-loaded error and a walk afterward.
“We had a real good batting practice at school and here. After the first inning, it took a little wind out of our sails, but we still got after it,” said Dedrick
Columbia had been 2-0 in Class AA regional finals, beating Baldwinsville in 2004, 4-2, before winning the state championship. Columbia also prevailed in a 2009 against Cicero-North Syracuse, 9-1.
Robert Sprague fired a two-hitter, Jeff Johnson drove in three runs, and Fort Ann kept its bid for a second state title in three years alive with a 9-0 Class D regional semifinal win over Crown Point at Shuttleworth Park.
Johnson had three hits including an RBI triple, Joe Foran had an RBI triple, and George Lehoisky hit a two-run single for the Cardinals (20-3). Crown Point (Section VII) came in with a 15-0 record.
Fort Ann takes on Parishville-Hopkinton (Section X, 11-4) today at Shuttleworth, with a state final four berth on the line.
Baldwinsville 310 200 0 — 6 10 0
Columbia 000 010 0 — 1 3 2
Orr and Levanti; Van Winkle, Godell (2) and Henchey.