UTICA — A perfect ending brought West Seneca Post 735 the New York State American Legion baseball championship Sunday at Murnane Field.
Matt Keating (Iroquois) retired all 21 batters he faced for a perfect game in pitching West Seneca to the title with a 6-0 victory over the Clinton County Mariners.
It capped a dramatic turnabout for coach Pete Trzybinski’s team. After losing to Middletown, 6-0, in the tournament opener on Wednesday, West Seneca won its next give games, outscoring the opposition, 44-12.
“We’ve relied all season on our pitching and defense, but our hitting came alive after the first game in the tournament,” said Trzybinski, whose team will move on to the Mid-Atlantic Regionals on Thursday in Camden, N.J.
West Seneca got almost spotless pitching in winning two games on Sunday. First, Post 735 defeated Smith Post of Rome, 10-3, behind a three-hitter by right-hander Austin Spindler (West Seneca East).
Spindler, who had not pitched previously in the tournament, allowed an unearned run in the first inning but did not give up a hit until the seventh. He struck out three and was helped by plays in the field by Ian Allen (East Aurora) and Liam Kelly (Bishop Timon-St. Jude).
The championship game was the second straight shutout for Keating, who blanked Melvin Roads, 10-0, on Friday in a game that was limited to five innings because of the tournament mercy rule. In the final Sunday, Keating, who is headed to Niagara County Community College, struck out six, and only five Clinton County batters were able to hit the ball out of the infield.
West Seneca had 12 hits in the championship game — two each by Bill Sulkowski (Orchard Park), Allen, Mike Prentice (St. Francis), Alex Pacer (West Seneca East), Kelly and Justin Krzemien (Iroquois). As it did in wins on Friday and Saturday, West Seneca grabbed the lead early, jumping ahead 4-0 after three innings.
In the morning victory over Rome, Prentice had three hits while Pacer, Kelly and Nate Thompson (East Aurora) each drove in a pair of runs.