Sam Maphey couldnt have picked a better day to have one of the most productive games of his Watertown High School baseball career.
Maphey delivered a two-run single during a four-run second inning Thursday. Then he went one better, powering a three-run home run to highlight a four-run third as WHS took a big, early lead and held on for a 10-6 Section 3 Class A quarterfinal victory over Carthage at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.
The second-seeded Cyclones (16-4), making the sectional semifinals for the second straight season, return to the Fairgrounds for an 11 a.m. semifinal on Saturday against No. 2 Cortland (15-4) or No. 6 Christian Brothers Academy (13-6).
Often the forgotten man in a power-packed Cyclones lineup, Maphey recorded the two biggest hits of the day for WHS against their Frontier League rival.
Ive never done that, an excited Maphey said of his first varsity home run. It felt really good. And in the end, I guess both of those hits turned out to be big.
Indeed. Seventh-seeded Carthage (12-8) fell behind 9-2 after four innings before getting to WHS starter Jarrod Bellinger for four runs in the fifth to make it a game.
But sophomore reliever Kenny Schimpf worked out of a two-on, no-out jam in the top of the sixth, then retired the Comets in order in the seventh.
Jarrod really gutted out five innings, WHS coach Matt Covey said. And Kenny did what we wanted him to do throw strikes and let our defense make plays behind him.
The Cyclones played errorless ball, with third baseman Collin Jorden making several key plays with runners in scoring position.
If we can keep getting big hits, and catch the ball like that, we can beat anybody, Covey said. Its so hard to beat a team three times (which WHS did vs. Carthage), and any kind of win in the sectionals is good.
Maphey, batting sixth in the batting order, singled in two runs in the first off Andrew Smith, after Ryan Bajjaly had reached on an error and Bellinger doubled.
Maphey, a senior, eventually scored on a wild pitch and the fourth run scored on a ground out by freshman Nick Lavin.
Bellinger, who also finished 3-for-3 at the plate, breezed through the first two innings, striking out four.
In the Carthage third, Smith contributed a run-scoring single and Tyler Clemons followed with an RBI double to get the Comets on the board.
The four-run WHS fourth began with Josh Belch reaching on an error when his high pop fly dropped into short right field. Bajjaly doubled Belch home, Bellinger walked and Maphey then deposited a Smith letter-high fastball over the left-center field wall for a three-run home run.
It was just a little inside, and I turned on it really well, said Maphey, the starting shortstop who also pitches for WHS. Actually, that last ball I hit (a line drive to right in the sixth that was caught) was probably hit harder than the home run.
Covey said Maphey has gotten hot at the right time for the Cyclones.
Hes had some big hits for us this year, and today those turned out to be really important, Covey said.
Bellinger singled home another run in the fourth, and an insurance run in the sixth.
Carthage put together four hits, including a two-run double from Clemons, a run-scoring triple by Dylan James and an RBI double by Danny Granger in its half of the fifth. But Bellinger stranded a big runner by striking out his ninth batter to end the inning.
We could have just imploded, but we kept battling, Carthage coach Joe Sech said. That will make us feel a little bit better heading into the offseason.
Meanwhile, WHS knows it has some unfinished business to take of.
All weve got to do is win two more for a sectional title, Maphey said. Weve got a shot, but we know the competition gets a lot stiffer from now on.