A pair of City Honors seniors pried the Cornell Cup from the grips of four-time defending champion Hutch-Tech on Friday.
Yusef Burgos ripped a decisive two-run single in the second inning and Tom Samar went the distance on the mound to lead the Centaurs to a 3-1 win over the Engineers before an estimated 200 fans at Coca-Cola Field. City Honors, which won its 16th city crown overall and first since 2005, finishes Cornell Cup play 12-0.
“It’s really surreal,” City Honors coach Frank DiLeo said. “It started on March 4 when we talked about setting goals and this was one of our goals. I’m really happy for the seniors, especially Tom and Yusef, who have been with us since seventh grade. Tech is our arch rival, too, so it’s always nice to beat them.”
Burgos, who homered in the Centaurs’ semifinal win over McKinley, punctuated a three-run uprising in the second inning with a perfectly placed single to center off Tech pitcher Westley Olmsted.
That hit, his second of the game, brought in David Lippman and Alex Eisenhauer, who had laid down a safety-squeeze bunt, scoring Nolan Megna earlier in the inning.
“It was simple really – right before the inning, coach told me to be aggressive and swing at the first good pitch I saw,” said Burgos, who also had four stolen bases and was narrowly tagged out at the plate as he tried to swipe home plate in the fifth inning.
Olmsted settled in after the second, though, not allowing another hit the rest of the way. The sophomore right-hander had five strikeouts, but did walk five batters – two were intentional.
Samar, though, was dealing from the get-go, pounding the strike zone with a heavy curveball and a lot of inside fastballs. The powerful right-hander scattered five hits – three of which were of the infield variety – and struck out nine. His only blemish came in the fourth when Tech’s Eladio Hernandez opened with an infield single, stole second and came all the way around on an error two batters later. He also induced an inning-ending double play in the sixth.
“I had a lot of experience pitching against them over the last few years and I knew that they liked to go the other way, so I was jamming them inside, breaking some bats and they didn’t like that at all,” Samar said. “And then the curveball, they didn’t really hit that much either.”
DiLeo had told his veteran hurler before the game that coach Tom Jost’s Tech squad wouldn’t make things easy for him at bat, where Samar is a powerful hitter.
“I told Tommy to just pitch, concentrate on throwing and take us to a championship,” DiLeo said. Tech walked Samar three times.
Now the Centaurs turn their attention to the Section VI Tournament, which begins Monday. City Honors plays in Class B-2 and is hoping to repeat its performance from 2011 when it advanced to the title game before falling to perennial power Fredonia. Having a pair of aces in Samar and sophomore Caleb Lee will certainly help its cause, according to DiLeo, who believes his team will be seeded second behind the Hillbillies.
Hutch-Tech (9-3), which didn’t have a senior on its roster and played six freshmen and sophomores, will enter the Class A bracket as a “four, five or six seed,” said Jost, adding “we weren’t even supposed to be in this game, so I’m really proud that we’ve made it this far.”
In the Cornell Cup II final, Elijah Mingo knocked in Jimmy Gallivan with the winning run in the bottom of the seventh with a two-out infield single to give Middle Early College a 6-5 win over Lafayette. Gallivan scored all the way from second on the play for the Kats.