The third-seed in the East in the Syracuse Spartans faced the top seed in the West Hornell Dodgers in the first of a three-game NYCBL Championship Series. The Spartans dropped the first game to the Dodgers by a score of 12-7.
Sam Spadifore got the start for the Spartans. The right-hander was chewed up and spit out as he did not make it out of the first inning. Spadifore gave up eight runs on six hits in only two-thirds innings.
The Spartans trailed early, as they headed into their first at bats down 8-0 thanks to some timely hitting by the Hornell power hitters. The Dodgers combined for six hits in that first inning, while getting walked twice and scoring eight runs.
Matt Walczak came in for relief in the end of the first inning for Spadifore. Walczak gave up one run in the second inning, a single to Hornell shortstop Chris Cerniglia scored left fielder Connor Bailey to give the Dodgers a 9-0 lead.
The Spartans cracked their goose egg in the bottom of the second inning. Catcher Nick Cardieri smacked a double into right-center field that hopped the fence. Right fielder Robert Ballinger then singled, and a wild pitch brought Cardieri home. Rocco Leone then got on base after an error by Cerniglia, which scored Ballinger; cutting the Dodger lead to 9-2.
The Spartans added to their score with another run in the bottom of the third inning, thanks to an RBI single by Jay Perry that scored Cyrus Senior from third base. That was Perry’s fourth hit of the playoffs, and his second RBI.
The Dodgers tacked on one more in the top of the fifth inning off of a sacrifice fly by Bailey to increase the Hornell lead to 10-3. The Spartans responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the frame thanks to an RBI single by first baseman Jay Perry that scored shortstop Jack Paulson from second base.
The Dodgers would not go down quietly, as they added two more runs to their resume in the top of the sixth inning to take a 12-4 lead, and run Walczak from the game. The Levitown, PA native who went four and a third innings, allowing four runs on six hits. Relief man Dillan Wilkinson came on to close it out for the Spartans.
The Spartans would add three more in the bottom of the ninth, but it would not do the damage that needed to be done. Jay Perry doubled into deep center field to score pinch hitter Nick Santoro. Chris Schad then smacked a two-run homerun into left field. The Spartans would drop their first game, 12-7.
Starting Dodger pitcher Maddox Minton went seven strong innings, allowing four runs on eight hits and earning his first playoff victory this season.
SPARTAN OF THE GAME: Dillan Wilkinson
After a tough outing against the Salt Cats, Wilkinson came into the Hornell game ready to go. The left-hander went four innings, allowing three hits and holding the Dodgers to no runs.
The Spartans return for their final games of the NYCBL season tomorrow when they travel to Hornell to face the Dodgers in game two of the Championship series. First pitch of Game 2 is set for 3:00, with Game 3 following 30 minutes after (if necessary).