CORNING - A game in front of their home fans along with timely hitting carried the Hawks to a 10-8 win over Ithaca in Game 2 of a best-of-three series Wednesday in the Section IV Class AA finals.
After only four hits and no runs in Game 1 in Ithaca, Corning pounded out 13 hits and 10 runs in the contest.
“They had a better approach, there’s a confidence about them when they are at home,” Corning head coach Eric Kizis said. “They have a confidence here and that showed tonight.”
The Hawks scored all 10 of their runs off of Ithaca’s Noel Foster, whom they previously tagged for eight hits in a 3-2 regular season victory against the Little Red.
“Our one win was against Noel Foster, so I think that also came into play a little bit,” said Kizis. “But when your backs are against the wall, when there isn’t an extra game and you don’t have another chance, I think you act a little different.”
Ithaca took a 1-0 advantage on an RBI double from Owen Glahn in the second inning, but left five guys on base through the first two frames.
Unlike Game 1, where Ithaca jumped on Corning early and the Hawks didn’t respond, Corning plated two runs in the bottom of the second on an RBI single from Blake VanWoert that scored Aidan Chamberlin and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Mason Smith.
“There’s a confidence here hitting,” said Eric Kizis. “The confidence coming out here hitting pregame, on our own field. I think it makes a difference.”
Corning added a run in the third inning on a Chamberlin single to go up 3-1.
Ithaca came back with three runs in the top of the fourth highlighted by RBI singles from Noel Foster and Gil Merod and an RBI double off the bat of Ishan Ethridge gave the Little Red a 4-3 advantage.
The Hawks responded again in the top of the fifth with four runs.
After two quick outs in the fifth, Jacob Freeland reached on an error followed by singles from Joey Troccia and Chamberlin and a bases loaded walk to Tanner Kizis.
VanWoert then lined a ball to right-center field that got by outfielder Holden Lazarus - - and when he was standing on third with a bases-clearing triple, the Hawks had a 7-4 advantage and VanWoert had his second hit and fourth RBI of the day.
“Blake had a couple of big hits,” said Eric Kizis. “Holden and Adam [Zingler], the two center fielders in this game, are two of the best in this league to be honest. For [Blake] to hit one hard enough to scoot by him, that was huge.”
The Little Red pulled closer with two runs in the sixth inning on an RBI double off the bat of Andrew Alise and an RBI single from Merod to make it 7-6, but that’s as close as they would get.
The Hawks tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the inning to extend their lead to 10-6 heading into the seventh.
Ithaca threatened in the final frame with four straight hits that included a 2RBI double from Elise, but Tanner Kizis was able to get the final two outs to end the contest.
Tanner Kizis started the game for Corning, tossing three innings and was called upon to finish the game, just like the Section IV semifinal game against the Blue Raiders where he earned a save.
“It’s not often that you start a kid, you take him out, then you go back to him, but I could see that he was losing focus,” said Eric Kizis. “Something to be said too when it’s your own kid and you can read that a little quicker and sooner. I knew that he was getting a little tired and frustrated with the strike zone.”
Corning and Ithaca will play in a decisive Game 3 Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Ithaca College to decide a champion and will most likely face Lazarus, who was dominant in an 8-0 Game 1 victory for the Little Red.
“[Holden] is an extremely good pitcher,” said Eric Kizis. “Hoping bouncing back from Monday to Friday will have a little impact, but we’ll see what happens. But we’re there and we’re ready. We have to take the same mindset we had today to Ithaca College.”
Chamberlin, the star of the semifinal game against Horseheads, has been nursing some “tenderness” and his status for Friday’s game is unknown.
“We’ll see what happens tomorrow,” said Eric Kizis. “The last outing against Horseheads, he threw more pitches than he has in quite some so we’ve been taking the time getting him back.”