After reeling off four consecutive wins to force a playoff game against Elmira Notre Dame, the Thomas A. Edison baseball team kept right on rolling Tuesday afternoon in a 16-6 victory against the Crusaders to claim the Interscholastic Athletic Conference South Large School Division title.
The Spartans took control with five runs in the second inning, then put up a 10-spot in the fifth in earning a date with North Division champion Dryden at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Elmira’s Dunn Field in the overall IAC Large School final.
Sophomore John Jones hit a three-run triple to cap the second inning and junior Andy Wilkins smacked a three-run double in the fifth as part of his three-hit, four-RBI day. Eight Spartans had hits as Edison (15-2) collected 13 hits and took advantage of six Notre Dame errors in avenging two regular-season losses.
“After we lost the first few times, and they were our only losses of the season, we kind of had to step ourselves up and come ready to play,” Wilkins said. “Everyone just really got into it and really wanted to play and it showed.
“(The division title) is pretty nice. It shows how good of a ball team we really are.”
Notre Dame jumped to a 3-1 lead after one inning behind a two-run triple from junior Parker May, who went 3-for-3 with a walk. Edison coach Zach Brown turned to junior Josh Cosgrove after the first four batters reached off Joe Ducot, and Cosgrove delivered five solid innings.
Wilkins pitched two scoreless innings to secure the title in Edison’s first season in the Large School Division following a dominant run among the Small Schools under longtime coach Mike Bennett.
“Edison’s got a great tradition and this is the first Large School (title),” Brown said. “Mike left a great team and I just had to come in and not screw it up.
“It was a nice win against a team that’s beat us twice, handled us twice, and now we get to move on to bigger and better things. It’s a great feeling.”
Notre Dame (12-5) lost at home for the second consecutive year in a division tiebreaker. Last year Waverly was a decisive winner over the Crusaders, 15-4.
“We’ve tied for first place the last two years and that’s a little bit of a feather in our cap, but we can’t get the job done when the tiebreak game rolls around,” Crusaders coach Bill Hopkins said.
The Crusaders’ defense let them down for the second consecutive game following a loss to Trumansburg, but Hopkins said Edison’s bats created most of the problems against Notre Dame starter Hunter Thomas and May, who took over after four of the first five batters reached in the fifth.
“You’ve got to give credit to Edison. They hit the ball hard all day long against one of the best pitchers on our team for sure and maybe in the area,” Hopkins said. “Hunter wasn’t sharp, but that’s not an excuse for how they hit the ball. The credit belongs to them and they hit the ball better than we did. They also made plays defensively and we kicked it around a few times.”
Jones, Cosgrove and Jake Bahantka added two hits each for the Spartans, who scored two runs in a loss to Notre Dame last week that left them needing to beat Candor, Waverly, Tioga and Watkins Glen to force a playoff.
Brown said the team as a whole is starting to take the proper approach at the plate and that showed in the results Tuesday.
“We’re staying back and driving the ball,” he said. “We’re doing it one through nine. We knew we could be pretty scary if we took that approach.”
Both teams will play in the Section 4 Class C tournament that starts next week and could see each other a fourth time.
“The kids have to perform better and maybe I have to do a better job of getting them ready,” Hopkins said. “I’ll take the hit for that. I was proud of our guys and have been proud of them all season long. Maybe we overachieved, I don’t know. But they’re a good baseball team. We beat them twice and I think our pitching did a great job in those two games.”