Clinton Warriors celebrate Semifinal win!

Fred Miller-MHTS

Photos-Rick Suprenant-MHTS

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On Saturday afternoon the baseball team that lives by the mantra “ never say never” had their maroon and white clad supporters squirming in their seats at Union-Endicott High School.

Squirming indeed, during another extra inning affair as their Clinton Warriors (20-5) winners of 19 of their last 20 and ranked second in New York State, rallied for single runs in the bottom of the sixth and eight innings to scratch out a, not soon to be forgotten, 2-1 win over a well coached, disciplined group of Wheatley, Long Island, Wildcats.

A win that reserved the a spot in the Class B Championship game at 6PM against the winner of the Fredonia/Ogdensburg Free Academy semifinal matchup that soon followed.

Two white hot teams did battle in the first Class B semifinal. Clinton, winners of 18 of their last 19, and Wheatley who had won 11 in a row.

Anthony Rizzo goes the distance for his 10th win of the season.

The late inning heroics and fireworks were set off by Clinton first basemen, Lenny Ortiz, whose long sixth inning RBI triple chased Ian Foxton home to tie the game up at 1-1.

Foxton carried a .342 batting average into the semifinal match up and led off the home sixth with a single to set the scene for Lenny’s big blast.

With Foxton on first and one man set aside by Wheatley right hander, Matt Rothstein, Lenny Ortiz stepped up and stepped up big when he launched his game tying three bagger.

Both starters, Anthony Rizzo and Rothstein, refused to bend or break as we headed to extras.

It was the eight frame that wrapped up a spot in the Class B Finals for Clinton. It took a a two out rally to get the job done.

Here’s how the winning rally evolved. Catcher, Andrew Taft, grounded out to first. Lenny Ortiz was a strikeout victim and then the winning rally was set in motion.

With two down, Mike Hayduk carried his .407 batting average to the plate to see if he could solve the puzzle presented by Matt Rothstein.

Lenny Ortiz back to the bag as Billy McLean awaits the throw.

Solve it the senior did, as Hayduk singled and then promptly stole second to put himself in scoring position.

After Hayduk stole second and Andrew Hobika walked, Hayduk took off for third and was called safe, which had Wheatley’s bench up in arms.

Catcher, Billy McLean’s, throw beat Hayduk to the bag but he slid under the tag.

Up stepped junior, Justin Jandke, who earlier in the game had a two out RBI opportunity go by the boards in the home fourth as the left handed batter lined one sharply to center fielder, Justin Borczuk, to end the Warrior threat.

Destiny and Jandke would not be denied. Jandke, a lefty, then inside-outed a 2-and-2 pitch to left-centerfield for the walk-off win. This one dropped to the turf as Mike Hayduk sped home with the second and game winning Warrior run.

The celebration was on and a ticket was punched to the Class B Final as Clinton lived to play another game.

Wheatley got on the board first in the fifth with a two-out rally of its own. Dex Iannone got the Wildcats’ first hit of the game off Clinton’s Anthony Rizzo on a line drive to left, and Lambert Chu walked to put runners on first and second.

Rothstein then helped his own cause with a bloop single down the rightfield line that landed between three Clinton fielders and on the chalk of the foul line to bring home Iannone. Clinton argued that the ball was foul, but the umpires huddled and upheld the call.

“I can say it now. I thought that ball was foul too,” Rothstein said. “The umpire blew that call and then the one at third for us but that’s baseball. Umpires make mistakes so, you just go with it. But after that hit, we were feeling confident. They only had a few hits off of me up to that point, but we knew we needed more runs.”

#12 Andrew Hobika takes a rip.

Anthony Rizzo was at his best again in the sixth, as Wheatley tried to build on their one run lead.

Justin Borczuk singled and was chased to third when Wildcats Captain, Billy McLean, doubled to deep, left center to put two Cats in scoring position, with just one out.

Rizzo, who entered the semifinal matchup with a miniscule .41 ERA had to dig deep into his bag of tricks to keep the Warriors season alive.

Dig deep Anthony did, as the crafty right hander got shortstop Andrew Hastings to pop out to catcher Andrew Taft for the second out.

With two outs and two on, Rizzo ended the threat when he got Tommy Gillette to ground out to shortstop, Ian Foxton. A big sigh of relief could be heard from the Clinton side of the field.

Wheatley didn’t have a baserunner in the seventh or eighth innings, and couldn’t provide much support for Rothstein, who scattered 10 hits as he battled through 7 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts on three days rest.

Anthony Rizzo improved to 10-1 on the season with the win, his fourth of a memorable post season. Rizzo yeilded just four hits while striking out three and walking just one

Austin Bouse, Lenny Ortiz and Mike Hayduk hat two hits each for Clinton.

Clinton 2 Wheatley 1

                  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 R H

Wheatley    0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 4

Clinton       0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 2 10