M-E clashes with Canandaigua for a trip to the finals

It’s been quite a ride for the Maine-Endwell baseball team this spring.

Dating back to the section championship series, the Spartans have had no shortage of thrilling, miraculous comeback wins.

With a state semifinal match-up on Friday, M-E will look to their senior leaders once again in a crucial moment.

“Those three games with three walk-offs, going down. We almost blew the games too. So, we know that with this team, one-through-nine, we have guys who can step up and do big things,” Third Baseman Joe Mancini says.

What a run it’s been for the Maine-Endwell Spartans.

Over the course of the last two weeks, M-E has tallied four postseason wins, with three of them coming in walk-off fashion.

That sort of resiliency and heart is something that everyone can see if they watch the Spartans play, including head coach Matt Raleigh.

“They don’t quit. We’ve got a great group of seniors here. We’ve got a great group of younger guys as well. But, our seniors have been our leaders all year. Each one of them has stepped up and won a game, literally won a game, in the last four games that we’ve had. Each one of them has done something very well, and have been great contributors to the team,” said Raleigh.

One of those seniors is third baseman Joe Mancini.

Mancini has been front and center for two of those walk-off wins, coming through with a hit to take game one of the section championship series, and then scoring on a wild pitch to upset #1 Lakeland in the state subregionals.

Mancini believes that the struggles of last year’s team helped shape this senior crew into the leaders they are today.

“It’s definitely been a big help. Last year wasn’t the best season for us. But, we were really young, so we had a lot of guys returning. We knew what it took to be this kind of a team. We knew what it took to prepare and practice, and stuff like that. So, I think it definitely helped last year, coming into this year, to help lead the team and just have a good season,” he says.

Another senior who’s had a big impact is Josh Chandler.

The hero of the latest M-E theatrical victory, Chandler has been another example of the Spartans capability to battle back.

Josh says having overcome adversity on multiple occasions has given a big boost to the team.

“I think it brings a lot of confidence to us because Mr. Raleigh says every game we’re going to get punched in the face at least once. Every time we come back from it. We all love the game, more than we like to win, even though we like to win a lot. Pretty much, every day we wake up thinking we want to do something special for the school and that’s what we’ve been doing so far. So, we want to keep that going,” says Chandler.

Along with a flair for the dramatic and a more-than-capable lineup, both Mancini and Chandler can sum up what this team is all about with one word.

“Passion,” Chandler says.

“Passion. We all have a lot of passion for the sport. We all have a lot of passion to do well. We all have a lot of passion for Maine-Endwell. So, we just want to make the city proud,” Mancini added.

The team’s passion is undeniable and there’s no doubt they’ll leave it all on the field Friday.

M-E and Canandaigua battle at Union-Endicott Friday at 2:00 pm with the winner on to the Class A state championship.

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