By Andrew Carey
LIVERPOOL, NEW YORK—The Syracuse Spartans (18-24 concluded their season on Sunday, losing a hard-fought game to the Syracuse Salt Cats (19-23), by a score of 14-10.
For the Spartans, it was their last chance at making a push towards the playoffs, coming in needing a win and a Sherrill loss. For the Spartans, it was their final game of the season, ending a stretch that saw them play 13 games in 9 days.
“It really revealed the mental toughness of our guys, who had a lot of heart and who didn’t” said manager Brian Burns on the schedule down the stretch. “Can’t thank Tim Lombardi enough for what he did this week, his body was giving out and he still went out and caught today until he couldn’t stand. Nolan Watson played hurt today, he’s got some shoulder issues. We had Red (reliever David Redfield) go behind the plate, something he’s never done before. Mesagno played a great third base today, something he’s never done. Ray Zincone is not a shortstop, but he played short for us the last two weeks with Pedone hurt. I can’t thank the guys enough for sacrificing for the team. They made my first head coaching experience memorable.”
The eighth and ninth innings was the difference in this see-saw affair between the cross-town rivals. After two quick strike outs from Jake Bianchi, he allowed a single to Adam Holland, then two consecutive triples to Xander Ferlenda and Sean Lawlor, giving the Salt Cats an 11-9 lead.
The Spartans pitching staff led by Brian Burns and pitching coach Doug Willey sent five different pitchers to the mound on Sunday night. The first two pitchers, Liam Devine and Michael Bubniak combined to allow seven runs in four innings of play.
Nick Borek came in and was a steadying presence, pitching three innings, giving up no earned runs, and striking out three. He was the lone effective pitcher for the Spartans, as Syracuse gave up 22 hits to the Salt Cats.
After falling behind by five runs after the top of the second inning, Syracuse immediately responded scoring four runs of their own in the home half, led by Josh Loeffler and Andrew Pedone singles.
The Salt Cats scored four more runs in the top of the fourth, behind a Taylor Fajardo mammoth home run over the right field fence. But the Spartans continued their never-say-die attitude, plating one run in the fifth, three in the sixth, and tying things up in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, Syracuse electrified the crowd behind a two out, two-run triple from John Mesagno to bring the Spartans within one run. Josh Loeffler would follow suit, hitting a RBI triple in the seventh to eventually tie the game. It was one of two five-run deficits the Spartans overcame.
“These guys haven’t quit all year,” said manager Brian Burns on his team. “It was real tough going from first to fifth in the division, but they didn’t stop competing. It’s not like we had guys quit on us or leave us mid-year because they weren’t happy. We had guys getting hurt, guys playing hurt. Eddie Pietschmann hasn’t been able to stand up for a week, but he took an at-bat today just to try and keep the season alive for his guys (the team).”
The Spartans finish the 2018 NYCBL season with an 18-24 record and in fifth place in the NYCBL Eastern Division.