’Jacks fall to Canton in semifinals
TUPPER LAKE — After winning the Section X, Class D crown last season, the Tupper Lake baseball team’s hopes of winning a Class C title will have to wait for at least another year.
Playing on their home diamond Monday night, the Lumberjacks’ season came to an end in the Section X, Class C semifinals game when the team was defeated 6-4 by the Canton Golden Bears.
In the do-or-die matchup, the Golden Bears got off to a hot start, scoring four runs in the first inning, while the Lumberjacks responded with two runs of their own in the back. Tupper Lake, however, was never fully able to overcome the difference.
Despite coming up one game shy of a sectional championship contest, Lumberjacks head coach Dan Brown said he was proud of how his team played.
“They didn’t give up, even that last at-bat,” Brown said. “Nobody likes to lose. I was just telling those guys out there that I hate losing more than pretty much anyone on the planet, it doesn’t matter if it’s Monopoly, Uno or baseball. But that’s a baseball game that you’re happy and proud to be a part of. A 6-4, seven-inning game against one of the best pitchers in Section X, what do you have to hang your head about?”
Canton’s starting pitcher David Zuhlsdorf, who has dominated in Section X play, including a 17-strikeout game against Gouverneur, was outstanding again, tossing a complete game. The southpaw also recorded 11 strikeouts in the win.
At the plate, the Golden Bears were led by Luke Wentworth, who had three hits, all of which were singles. Erich Zuhlsdorf, Nate Romano and Charlie Todd recorded two hits each in the win.
“They came out swinging that first inning,” Brown said. “They had four runs in that first inning. They had four or five line drive hits.”
Erich Zuhlsdorf got the bats rolling in the first, before four of Canton’s next five batters recorded a hit, giving them an early 4-0 lead.
“Their first (three) batters hit the first pitch,” Brown said. “But then Grant Bencze, he’s a junior and he pitched all of our big games for us this year, goes the distance and kept it under 100 pitches. (He) let in only six runs, what more can you ask for?”
While Bencze finished the game with just one strikeout, he allowed his team to make plays defensively by forcing the Golden Bears into multiple ground outs and pop-ups, while limiting his walks.
In the bottom half of the first inning, the Lumberjacks led off with a single, but the momentum seemed to be crushed when the next batter hit into a double play.
With two outs, Tupper Lake’s Griffin Shaheen singled and was almost immediately driven in when Luke Robillard hit an RBI triple over the head of Canton’s right fielder. The Lumberjacks scored its second run when Owen Whitman hit an RBI single.
Shaheen, Whitman and Wyatt Godin record a pair of hits to lead Tupper Lake. Robillard, Bencze and Garrett Dewyea finished with one hit each in the team’s nine effort.
Dewyea brought the game within one run when he hit an RBI single to the outfield in the bottom of the third inning. Both the Golden Bears and Lumberjacks then traded runs in the fourth inning, keeping the game within one.
Leading 5-4, the Golden Bears scored its final run after Wentworth led off the top of the fifth inning with a single. Wentworth was eventually driven in after his teammate hit a ground ball to Tupper Lake’s second baseman, Phil Beaudette. The ball then took a weird hop before Beaudette could make a play, hitting him in the chest, which allowed Wentworth to score.
“We had a tough big bounce at second base,” Brown said. “Then our second baseman made three more plays in the next two and a half innings.”
The Lumberjacks held strong defensively for the remainder of the game, keeping the Golden Bears without a run. Offensively, the team was unable to mount the comeback as David Zuhlsdorf tossed six strikeouts in the final three innings.
With the win, Canton will take on the Norwood-Norfolk Flyers in the Section X, Class C title game today. Tupper Lake finished the season with a record of 11-4.