MARLBORO — Spackenkill High School baseball is once, twice, three times a Section 9 Class B champion.
The third-seeded Spartans beat No. 4 Onteora, 3-2, Friday night, to earn their third consecutive title.
Spackenkill will face Section 1 champion Ardsley in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association regional semifinals on Monday at John Jay-Cross River High School.
Good pitching, timely hitting and rare fielding feats provided the winning formula for Spackenkill.
Billy Winnis pitched a complete game, scattering four hits while striking out four and walking three. Winnis didn’t finish the game as strong as he started it, but the junior didn’t face a fourth batter in the top of the seventh, with his team clinging to a one-run lead.
“The last couple innings, I struggled,” Winnis said. “My defense made plays.
“I basically just said this is my ball and I was going to pitch 200 pitches if I needed to.”
The Spartan bats started out quiet but had better success the second time through the order. Kenny Herrera doubled in Michael Wallace and Justin Etts with one out in the bottom of the third.
“I was thinking I had to put one in the outfield,” Herrera said. “I got a pitch I could drive.”
Herrera came around to score the third and final run for Spackenkill on a groundout by Marc Horvath. Still, it was his defensive feat that may have been the play of the game. The centerfielder killed an Onteora rally by catching a fly ball and touching second base after the runner failed to tag up for an unassisted double play.
“He’s a player,” Spackenkill coach Don Neise said. “No doubt about it.”
The Spartans’ season has ended in the state regional semifinals each of the last two seasons, losing to Briarcliff both times.
“We aren’t going to accept (last two season’s results) anymore,” Herrera said. “We have a lot of experience and I think it’s going to be very good for us.”
Herrera believes the key to prolong the season will take place when the team unwinds from its victory and gets back to work.
“We need to make sure we stay sharp in practice,” Herrera said. “That’s the biggest key.”