After a long, long weekend of rain delays and a championship game that required two days to play between rain drops, the Tuckahoe Tigers mounted a come-from-behind 9-5 victory to capture the New York State Public Schools Class C baseball championship Sunday in upstate Binghamton.
The championship game against Norwood, which began early Saturday morning, was suspended several times because of rain before continuing Sunday afternoon.
The victory featured strong pitching performances by starter Alex Melendez, who began the game on Saturday and continued Sunday afternoon, and reliever Paul Luis, who earned the save in relief.
The Tigers led 2-1 after two innings of the Saturday afternoon championship game start, but rain stopped the game several times, finally suspending it overnight. When the game resumed, Norwood took a 3-2 lead after four innings. But the Tigers exploded in the sixth, using several Norwood errors and misplays, a key hit by Lou Bellantoni and go-ahead RBI singles by Jarrett Sommer and Jaime Maldondo to score seven runs, taking a decisive 9-3 lead.
Tigers co-coach John DArco Jr., who works with his father John DArco Sr. coaching both the schools football and baseball teams, said the Tigers relied on their athletic ability and confidence to earn the victory.
This group is very strong willed, DArco said when reached by phone following the game. We knew that Alex could pitch because he has a rubber arm and never ties, but we didnt know how long he would go. We trailed 3-2 but we knew wed score runs. We just didnt expect to score seven in an inning.
The Tigers, who finished the season with a record of 19-6 and won their second Class C state title (they last won in 2002).
Melendez, Bellantoni and Sommer each had two hits in the two-day championship game.
We have a bunch of fighters who were determined to win and were very proud of them, DArco said. We (The coaching staff) are going to cry more than they are when the seniors graduate next week. In Saturday mornings state semifinal, L.J. Gallo pitched a complete game, striking out four and allowing four hits for the Tigers in a 4-1 victory over Cuba-Rushford, setting up the scheduled afternoon final with Norwood. Stephen McCann drove in two runs and Justin Rosas had an RBI to lift the Tigers.
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