After being held scoreless through the first five innings against Corning-Painted Post, the Ithaca High School baseball team scored four unanswered runs in the final two frames to tie the ballgame at four apiece before losing in extra innings 5–4 in the third and final game of the Section IV Class AA Championship on May 31 at Freeman Field.
The Hawks took a 3–0 lead in the top of the first inning. Adam Zingler led off the contest with a base hit off of Ithaca starting pitcher Holden Lazarus, and Jacob Freeland reached on an error. Joseph Troccia then singled to load the bases with no outs.
Corning-Painted Post starting pitcher Aidan Chamberlain hit a single that scored Zingler and gave the Hawks a 1–0 lead. With the bases still loaded, Blake VanWoert drew a walk to force in a run to make it 2–0. Troccia eventually scored from third on a fielder’s choice to bring the lead to 3–0.
Chamberlain held the Little Red at bay through the first five innings, allowing just one hit during that span. Despite only producing one hit through the first five innings, Ithaca did have a couple scoring opportunities.
In the bottom of the second, Felix Fairbrother was hit by a pitch with two outs. The pitch struck his left shoulder first before hitting the left side of his face. Fairbrother began to bleed from his mouth, and was replaced by a pinch runner.
Colby Capalongo came in to pinch run for Fairbrother, and stole second base during Owen Glahn’s plate appearance. However, Glahn would fly out to left field to end the inning.
With two outs in the bottom of the third, Lazarus drew a base on balls and Gil Merod singled to left to put runners on first and second for Andrew Alise. Alise would ground out to short to extinguish the threat.
The Little Red had another chance to score in the bottom of the fifth. Billy Block led off the inning with a walk and eventually stole second. After Ishan Ethridge struck out swinging, Lazarus came up to bat. On a one-two pitch, Lazarus stung a liner right at Corning-Painted Post shortstop Landen Burch. Burch caught the line drive and stepped on second before Block could retreat back to the bag for the unassisted double play.
Lazarus kept Ithaca in the game, though. After a rough first inning, the righty gave up just two hits over the next four innings, holding the Hawks scoreless during that time. The only other jam Lazarus faced was in the top of the third when he had a runner on third base with just one out. He got out of any further trouble with a strike out and a fly out to right.
Ithaca finally broke through against Chamberlain in the bottom of the sixth. Merod led off the frame with a hit-by-pitch. Chamberlain then walked Alise and served up a single to Noel Foster as the Little Red had the bases juiced with no outs. Next up was Dom Varma who hit a fly ball to right that was deep enough to score Merod from third as Ithaca trailed 3–1. Chamberlain buckled down thereafter, striking out the next two batters to maintain Corning-Painted Post’s two-run lead.
The Hawks regained their three-run advantage in the top of the seventh. With two gone, Lazarus walked Tanner Kizis and Noah Walker. Following the walk by Walker, Mason Smith stroked a singled that scored Brody Batenstein, who came in as a pinch runner for Kizis, increasing Corning-Painted Post’s lead to 4–1.
Despite the Hawks picking up an insurance run, the Little Red did not fold in the bottom half of the seventh. Block led off the inning with a single back up the box. Angel Rivera-Barrett came in to pinch hit for Ethridge and grounded out to second, but was able to advance Block a base. Lazarus then came up to the dish and clubbed a two-bagger in the left-center gap that scored Block and cut Corning-Painted Post’s lead in half at 4–2.
Ithaca inched even closer with a base knock from Merod that scored Lazarus, trimming Corning-Painted Post’s lead to one. Next up was Alise, who drew a walk, moving Merod up to second base. After Alise’s walk, it was Foster’s turn at the plate. During Foster’s plate appearance, Chamberlain threw a pitch in the dirt that got past Troccia behind the plate. Merod scooted over to third immediately, but by the time he reached third Troccia was still scrambling to find the ball. Realizing Troccia had no clue where the ball was, Merod streaked towards home, where he slid across the plate for the tying run. Alise advanced to second on the play as well.
With only one out and a runner on second, the Hawks intentionally walked the next two batters to reload the bases for Capalongo. Capalongo took the first pitch and grounded it to Kizis at first, who threw home for the force play to keep the score knotted at four all. With the bases still loaded with two outs, Glahn stepped into the batter’s box with the chance to walk it off. However, Chamberlain squashed that plan by fanning Glahn and sending the game into extra innings.
It did not take long for Corning-Painted Post to regain its lead. In the top of the eighth, Bartenstein led off the inning with a walk against Alise, who came in to relieve Lazarus in the seventh. Next up was Kizis, who laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Bartenstein over to second. With a runner on second and one out, Walker came up to bat and reached first on an infield single, which advanced Bartenstein over to third. It was Smith’s turn at the plate thereafter, and he drove in Bartenstein with a base hit to give the Hawks a 5–4 lead. Alise struck out the next two batters to hold Corning-Painted Post’s lead to one run.
Kizis relieved Chamberlain in the bottom of the eighth as the Ithaca looked to tie, if not win, the game in the inning. However, Kizis retired the side in order via three straight ground outs to seal the championship for Corning Painted-Post.
Lazarus pitched well for the Little Red on the day. In six innings of work, he gave up four runs on six hits while walking three and striking out six. He also went 1-for-4 at the plate with the double, a run scored and a run batted in.
In addition to scoring the game-tying run in the bottom of the seventh, Merod went 2-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch and a RBI. Varma drove in a run with the sacrifice fly and stole a base in the game. Block went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.
Chamberlain pitched a solid game as well. He surrendered four runs on two hits over seven innings, walking four, hitting two batters and striking out six. At the plate, he went 2-for-4 with a double and a RBI.
Smith went 2-for-4 with two RBI. Zingler went 2-for-5 with a run scored. Bartenstein walked twice, scored the go-ahead run and drove in a run.