The Lansing Bobcats baseball team fell to the Waverly Wolverines, 1-0, in the IAC Semifinal at Tompkins Cortland Community College, May 16, after the Wolverines won on a walk-off double in the bottom of the 10th inning.The Bobcats entered the game hoping to earn their spot in the championship game, hoping to win an IAC title for the first time in six years, despite having previously won 12 in the last 19 seasons.
Waverly, the IAC Division III champions, entered the contest with a 12-6 record, while the Bobcats had posted an 11-3 mark on their way to capturing the lone wild card position.
From the opening moments, the Bobcats showed offensive promise as they strung together three consecutive two-out singles to load the bases before stranding the runners on base to end the inning.
Lansing’s senior standout, Garrett Bell, immediately went to work on the pitcher’s mound, retiring the first three Waverly hitters, with the last being a victim of a strikeout.
Bell’s opposing pitcher, Caden Hollywood, issued a leadoff walk to Lansing’s Carson Crandall, before retiring three of the next four batters to keep the game scoreless.
Over the next three innings, defensively, Bell and the Bobcats allowed just three runners, one per inning, on base for the Waverly.
The Bobcats looked poised to break open the deadlock, again, in the third inning, when Anthony Ruquet, the leadoff hitter, reached base after being hit by a pitch. Two batters later, Matt Weil doubled before Crandall was walked for the second consecutive at-bat, loading the bases. Hollywood and the Wolverines worked their way out of the jam, ending the inning with a strikeout to keep the game scoreless.
After Bell continued to cruise defensively he found his offensive skills, as he worked his way to third base after being walked and picking up two stolen bases. With just one out and a runner 90 feet from home, Hollywood retired back-to-back Bobcat hitters to, once again, strand a Lansing runner in scoring position.
Hollywood and Bell would continue to shut down each other’s offense into the sixth inning, where Hollywood would be relieved by Waverly’s Ethan Stotler. The pitching change sparked the Lansing offense again, moving two runners into scoring position in the seventh.
After Ruquet reached on an error and was moved to third after a Griffin Nelson single, he was thrown out at home by Waverly’s first baseman Cole Jenner. The inning would end with Nelson reaching third but having to be stranded there upon the final out.
Stotler settled into his groove, facing 10 batters of the next three innings, and retiring the Bobcats in order in the top half of the 10th inning.
Bell, having pitched a stellar day for the Bobcats, saw his day end after the ninth inning, giving up just two hits and recording 13 strikeouts. His replacement, Ruquet, stepped onto the mound in the bottom of the tenth, looking to keep the game going.
The Wolverines had a different plan, as Hollywood led off the inning with a double, before Jenner, the following batter, hit a double of his own to bring Hollywood home for the 1-0 walk-off win.
Waverly would ride the momentum from its win over Lansing to an IAC Championship with an upset win over Thomas A. Edison the following day. While the semifinal loss will weigh on the Bobcats, the team has another challenge ahead, they will host Newfield on Friday in the first round of the sectional tournament. Lansing is looking for a second consecutive Section IV title, hoping to reach the state playoffs, again, after falling in the state Final Four last season.
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