Cazenovia Entering the Section III Class B playoffs, the Cazenovia baseball team possesses some confidence, borne out of last year’s B-2 title run and the fact that, this spring, it achieved yet another first for the program.
In a tense, exciting battle with Hannibal Wednesday at the Sean Googin Sports Complex, the Lakers were pushed to nine innings, but Billy Bigsby’s big hits, and some help from the opposition, produced a 2-1 victory over the Warriors.
With that win, the Lakers clinched a share of the OHSL Liberty National division regular-season title, the very first league championship Cazenovia has ever achieved. Solvay would eventually tie the Lakers for that title with wins later in the week.
Just like the decade-long climb made to relevance under head coach Jay Steinhorst, this game proved a battle of endurance and will.
Bigsby had his first big moment in the bottom of the fourth, getting to Hannibal ace Greg Pitcher as he singled home Cullen Franz to give Cazenovia a 1-0 lead.
Quickly, the Warriors answered in the fifth, Jake Shortslef (who struck out 20 in a win over Jordan-Elbridge two days earlier) using one of his three hits to bring home Trevor Alton and forge a 1-1 tie.
And there it stayed, through the rest of regulation. Chris Matteson relieved Mark Dewan in the sixth, but Pitcher stayed, as he mostly baffled the Lakers’ batters, with the exception of Franz, who finished with three hits.
Going to the bottom of the ninth, it was still 1-1. Then Bigsby knocked a single to left, which didn’t look that serious – until the ball rolled past the defender and went all the way to the fence.
Turning on his speed, Bigsby made it all the way to third base, and when the throw to the infield went off line, he took off for the plate and made it, two errors leading to a game-winning run and a bit of Laker history.