The Bethlehem All-Stars left the door open a crack, and it was all South Colonie needed.
South Colonie beat Bethlehem by scores of 13-3 and 10-6 Saturday at Line Drive Fields in Delmar to win the Eastern New York State Babe Ruth 15-year-old division championship and earn an automatic berth to the Babe Ruth World Series in Clifton Park.
This is the first Colonie Babe Ruth team to ever go to a World Series, and I'm honored to be a part of it, said South Colonie manager Jeal Sutherland.
"Obviously by getting to the last inning and the last out, I told the kids I was pretty pleased with how far we got," said Bethlehem manager Anthony Felitte. "South Colonie was the favorite coming into it, not us."
Bethlehem had late leads in both games before South Colonie posted its comebacks. In the first game, Ron Notar's three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning gave South Colonie a 5-3 lead, and the District 4 champions tacked on eight runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to invoke the 10-run mercy rule.
"Ron Notar was the sparkplug for us," said Sutherland. "He sparked both of our comebacks."
Bethlehem again put itself in position to win the state title in the second game. Bethlehem scored four runs in the bottom of the second inning to grab a 5-1 lead and extended the advantage to 6-1 with a run in the fourth inning.
South Colonie chipped away at Bethlehem's lead, though. Notar cranked a two-run homer in the top of the fifth to pull South Colonie within three runs. Then in the sixth inning, Liam Keegan singled home pitcher Paul Nylin to make the score 6-4.
Bethlehem starting pitcher Matt Nash worked his way out of trouble in the sixth by getting Mike Vetrone to line into an inning-ending double play, but ran into more trouble in the seventh. Drew Rivera and Andy Carucci hit consecutive singles to lead off the inning for South Colonie. After Notar struck out, Derek Zielinski singled in Rivera and Nylin laid down a sacrifice bunt to drive in Carucci with the tying run.