CANTON — Lake Placid committed a couple of errors in the fifth inning and Matt Guardino made the Blue Bombers pay.
Guardino’s two-out, two-run double put Section X champion Heuvelton ahead to stay Monday in a 4-3 victory in NYSPHSAA Class D baseball regional play at SUNY Canton.
The win sends the Bulldogs (18-0) into today’s regional final against Section II’s Fort Ann.
Starter R.J. Reid, with the Section VII-champion Blue Bombers holding a 2-1 lead since the first inning, retired the first two Heuvelton batters on ground balls to second base to begin the bottom of the fifth.
But Chris Power and Aaron Cobb both reached on errors and stole bases to give the Bulldogs runners on second and third. Guardino, who went 3-for-3 in the game, then sent a drive to the fence in right field to give Heuvelton a 3-2 advantage.
“We made some errors and then the double was the big hit in the game,” Lake Placid coach Brian Brandes said.
The Bulldogs then tacked on what turned out to be a big insurance run in the sixth off reliever Ryan Meyer.
Once again, the run was unearned as Mike Guardino reached on a two-out dropped fly ball in left, stole second and scored on Jack Palmer’s RBI single.
It then got interesting in the top of the seventh when the Bulldogs, who had not made an error, committed three miscues.
Connor Preston reached on an infield error to open the inning off reliever Cody Holland. Holland then retired the next two batters, including a line drive to left field by Shane McNierney. Noah Mohr then sent a fly ball to the gap in left center that was dropped, allowing Preston to score and make it 4-3.
Holland induced the next batter to pop up in foul territory at third, but the ball was dropped for another error. But good fortune awaited the Bulldogs as another foul pop to third was caught this time to end the game.
The Blue Bombers struck out only four times in the game, but could manage just two hits.
“The wind was blowing and we hit too many balls in the air,” Brandes said. “We didn’t hit enough line drives and lost the mojo we had going for us.”
Lake Placid took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, taking advantage of the wildness of Heuvelton starter Power.
Power got the first out of the inning and then walked Kamm Cassidy and Meyer. An infield pop retired the next batter, but Alex Brandes singled in Cassidy and Meyer came across to score when Brandes got caught in a rundown between first and second.
Heuvelton cut its deficit to 2-1 in the home half of the inning with its only earned run in the contest.
Palmer singled with one out, went to second on Power’s infield grounder and scored on a Cobb single.
Then came a turning point in the game.
Power continued to struggle with his control in the second. After getting two outs, he walked the bases loaded and the Heuvelton coach had seen enough. Holland took over with Meyer at the plate and the Lake Placid standout sent a line drive to second for the final out.
“That was a key part of the game for us,” Brandes said. “We wanted Ryan to hit a line drive in that situation — and he did.”
Holland, who Heuvelton would have liked to have saved for today against Fort Ann, allowed just one hit the rest of the way — a single by Kyle Shipman in the fourth inning. He struck out just three, but retired six Blue Bombers on infield grounders and seven others on either fly balls to the infield or outfield.
Losing pitcher Reid struck out three and Meyer fanned two. They combined to allow seven hits, three by Matt Guardino and two by Palmer.
“It’s comforting to know that we can compete like this with the third-ranked team in the state.” Brandes said. “But I felt we were going to win the game.
“We had a great season. We started a mix from eighth-graders to seniors. They got to know one another well playing hockey together and came together as a baseball team.”
Heuvelton 4, Lake Placid 3
Lake Placid 200 000 1 — 2 2 4
Heuvelton 100 021 x — 4 7 3
Reid, Meyer (5) and Kane. Power, Holland (2) and Cobb. WP- Holland. LP- Reid. 2B- Ma. Guardino (H).