TICONDEROGA — Ticonderoga has unfinished business in Binghamton.
Last season, the Sentinels were two outs away from capturing a state championship but ended up losing to Section V’s Avon, 6-5, in eight innings.
While hopes of a title were extinguished in 2018, Ticonderoga is back in the state semifinals and looking to make that one final step.
The Sentinels will clash with Section V’s Gananda at 2 p.m. in a NYSPHSAA Class C semifinal at Maine-Endwell High School in Binghamton.
“The boys understand how special this is,” Ticonderoga coach Dan Dorsett said.
“They are not taking it for granted. They are really motivated and very focused. Compared to where we were at the beginning of the season and where we are now, I think we are more focused.”
Tim Mcclare leads the Blue Panthers on the mound and is coming off quite the performance in Gananda’s 4-1 regional win against Section VI’s Falconer.
The Blue Panthers’ senior righty racked up 16 strikeouts and tossed a three-hit complete game and will have plenty of confidence as he goes up against the Sentinels.
“I know they have a great pitcher that throws hard,” Dorsett said. “They have a couple young guys that throw hard as well, and they have a core of seniors that carry them a little bit.”
Ticonderoga reached today’s semifinal with a 9-1 defeat of Section II’s unbeaten Fort Plain.
The Sentinels enjoyed a five-run fifth inning and four-run sixth against the top-ranked Hilltoppers.
Russell Gallo powered Ticonderoga on the mound in the contest with a complete-game two-hitter.
Dorsett said the Sentinels’ lefty will most likely get the nod against Gananda, but he acknowledged Michael DuShane would be an option to pitch as well.
“We will probably lean toward Russ, but we might try and gamble maybe with pitch counts and try and play ahead,” Dorsett said.
“The problem is you can’t win the championship if you are not in it. I have a ton of confidence in Michael and our other pitchers as well. Michael pitched in the championship game last year and pitched fantastic. My biggest concern is those guys haven’t pitched in awhile.”
Ticonderoga certainly has momentum on its side after knocking off Fort Plain, which had not trailed in a game all season and allowed a total of 19 runs all year, but Dorsett said his team needs to put that victory in the past.
“My biggest fear came after beating Fort Plain,” Dorsett said. “I did not want us to think we were as good as Fort Plain, and I don’t want us to think that we are going to go down there and have things just be handed to us.
“We have to work for everything we do. We have to work for every at-bat, every out and every strike. Nobody is going to give us anything down there.”
The Sentinels took home the Section VII crown with a hefty 15-0 victory against Lake Placid and have seen their offense click of late.
After Ticonderoga defeated the Blue Bombers, Dorsett joked that the Sentinels get off the bus and just start hitting.
That’s been the theme for Ticonderoga all season, as lineup depth has been one of the squad’s best strengths.
“When I was writing out our lineup the other day, all our seniors are at the top of the lineup,” Dorsett said. “I really think that someone like Terrence Benedict is a great definition of our lineup. He bats in the sixth spot, but he could be anywhere in the lineup.
“Bryce Gautreau is another one of those guys for us. He just always seems to have a great plate appearance and never strikes out.”
If the Sentinels find a way to beat the Blue Panthers, they will advance to play either Section XI’s Pierson or Section III’s Cooperstown in the state championship at 4 p.m. Saturday at Binghamton University.
Dorsett said his team must maintain its focus and determination if it wants to have any success.
“I was really harping on them from the first day of practice to just worry about our first game and nothing in the past or in the present other than the next game on our schedule,” Dorsett said. “I figured that we could not compete at the state level unless we worried about our regular season first.
“When we played Fort Plain, we played outstanding because we were focused, driven and working for it. If we can do the same thing this weekend, I like our chances.”
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