It was a big day on Thursday for the Maine-Endwell Spartans baseball team.
It’s been a few years since M-E was last in the New York State Tournament, going back to 2016.
You have to go back a decade to find the last time the Spartans came out on the winning end of a state tourney game.
That came back in 2009 when they defeated Cornwall 7-6 in the subregionals.
Let’s see if they could update that win column.
M-E taking on the top ranked team in the state, Lakeland, at NYSEG Stadium.
Winner heading to the regional round.
Spartans down 1-0 after the 1st and facing the New York State Gatorade Player of the Year and Boston College commit Joe Vetrano.
But, M-E was up to the challenge.
Bases loaded in the bottom of the 5th for Ryan Brozovic.
And he shoots one up the middle.
Two runners in to score and the Spartans go up 2-1.
They carried a 3-1 lead into the top of the 7th.
But, that lead would disappear as Lakeland struck back for three runs to take a 4-3 lead, putting M-E’s backs against the wall.
However, the Spartans character and will shined through.
Joe Mancini up with Adam Rutkowski at second.
Mancini comes through in the clutch again!
He finds a gap as Rutkowski is able to score with ease.
We’re tied at two and Mancini flies into third and stands 90 feet away from winning the game…and he’d get his chance.
Vetrano had a couple of these get away, but none more important than that.
Mancini in to score and he once again finds himself at the bottom of a dog pile.
M-E wins it on a walk-off wild pitch.
5-4 your final.
After yet another clutch hit in a big spot, Mancini talked about the feeling of helping send his team to the next round.
“That was an unbelievable feeling. I mean, there’s been a couple walk-off’s this year, but this one, this one felt special. Number one team in the state, a fantastic pitcher. I don’t know, what did we get, five hits the whole entire game. That’s an outstanding pitcher right there. So, to see the ball go to the backstop, I hear coach Raleigh screaming ‘Let’s go!’ as I’m running. I crossed home plate and I just got trampled by everybody. It was amazing, can’t describe it,” Mancini said.
Being down heading into your final at-bat can be a daunting feeling.
But, M-E head coach Matt Raleigh told his team what to do, and they executed to perfection.
“I told them we’re going to leave em on the field. We’re going to leave em on the field. We’re going to have a walk-off win here. That was a heart breaking top of the 7th. But, we know what we’ve done all year and we know how hard we worked. I told them just lay it on the line and they did that right there. Joe Mancini a big two-strike triple. That’s the play of the game for us,” says Raleigh.
The Spartans will face Roosevelt in the regionals on Saturday back at NYSEG.