With their host families looking on and families at home listening to the broadcast, the Syracuse Spartans (23-18) clinched their first ever playoff birth in the East Division of the NYCBL with their 7-1 rout of the first-place Hornell Dodgers (30-11) in the West.
With the win and the Syracuse Salt Cats 1-0 loss to the Rome Generals later in the night, the Spartans are now only one game out of first place behind the Salt Cats. First place is on the line as both Syracuse teams play each other tomorrow for first place. If the Spartans win, it will give them a share of first place, but because they own the tie-break, the Syracuse Spartans will win outright and earn a bye day on Monday.
When it came to the shortened, seven inning game today, everything clicked for the Spartans, both offensively and defensively. The Spartans took an early 1-0 lead on an RBI single from designated hitter Jay Perry in the bottom of the first inning. It was Perry's 25th RBI of the season.
The Dodgers tied the game up in the top of the second inning with a solo shot hit by Hornell's third baseman Max Werner.
The Spartans put Hornell away in the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring six runs in the frame. The inning was highlighted by catcher Nick Cardieri's RBI double and starting right fielder Dan Frawley's three run homerun over the center field wall.
Starting for the Spartans was right-hander Sam Spadafore, and he was electric. He went all seven innings, only giving up one run on six hits and striking out a summer-career-high nine batters. "He stepped up," Head Spartan Coach James Williamson said. Spadafore moved to 1-3 on the season.
SPARTAN OF THE GAME: Sam Spadafore
Spadifore matched his best start of the season, going seven innings and only allowing one run on five hits. He also struck out a summer season high nine batters.
While Syracuse came away with the win, one of the more important storylines of the night was that it was Host Family Appreciation night.
Host families play a huge part in the Spartans summer baseball season. Players come from far and wide, like Wisconsin, Illinois and even Canada (just to name a few). These families take in these players, house them, feed them and care for them.
"My experience this summer with my host family was amazing. These people opened their home to me and treated me like one of their own from day one," Micah Riddick said.
Some players even had a few host brothers and sisters, and they treated them as their own. "The family has been nothing but good to me and the boys," Spartan closer Rich Marshall said. Him, Nick Cardieri and Robert Ballinger's host family was the Hoppe family. "The Hoppe expererience has been quite the roller coaster of excitement and one I will never forget. I just want to thank them for this opportunity and incredible experience."
Check back in to syracusespartans.com within a few days to check out more host family stories and fun times.