The Syracuse American Legion Juniors baseball team posted five wins and suffered just one defeat in taking the Class C3 Area championship in Syracuse. By winning the tourney, Syracuse advances to play at the state tournament at St. Paul.
Syracuse will open Class C state tournament action at 12 p.m. on Saturday, July 15, against Creighton. For the full bracket see the Journal-Democrat Facebook page.

Juniors 5, Malcolm 3
With the score 4-3 in the top of the sixth inning and the tying run on first base, No. 2 seed Syracuse turned a 4-6-3 double play that helped seal a 5-3 victory against No. 7 seed Malcolm Friday night in the first round of the Class C3 Area Tournament at the Syracuse ball complex.
Malcolm took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, but that lead didn’t last. In the bottom of the second, Sam Goering drew a walk and Kelson Driever crushed a double. Jacob Gorton hit a one-out RBI sacrifice to even things up 1-1.
Syracuse continued to put pressure on Malcolm with small ball strategy.
Jackson Zastera led off  the bottom of the third with a walk. Catcher Zach Beers hit a single and Prater laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt down the third base side. Brandon Cavanaugh hit a ground ball to third base resulting in a two-run error and the Rockets led 3-1.
Malcolm showed signs of life by rallying to tie the game 3-3 but that’s all Malcolm would score the rest of the game as Izaak Prater struck out the side in the top of the fifth.
In the bottom half of the fifth, Goering reached on an error. Driever hit a single and after another defensive lapse by Malcolm, Syracuse had the bases loaded. Tanner Loecker hit a single to put the Rockets up 4-3.
Malcolm had the tying run on first in the to of the sixth when a hard ground ball to second baseman Loecker resulted in a double play. Loecker flipped the ball to shortstop Cavanaugh who made a quick turn and fired a laser to first base where Zastera completed the 4-6-3 double play.
Beers led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk and Cavanaugh also reached base ahead of Goering’s sacrifice fly to score Beers and put Syracuse up 5-3.
In the final frame, Prater, who pitched an excellent game, struck out the first hitter for Malcolm. Gorton entered the game in relief and struck out the final two hitters.
Prater got the win and Gorton got the save.
—Story by Waylon Bennett

Juniors 7, Wymore 6
Clutch defensive plays helped Syracuse score a 7-6 win over Wymore on Saturday at the area tourney.
Wymore was up one run and threatening to score in the fifth when Rocket catcher Zach Beers gunned down a base runner at third and, on the next play, pitcher Max Brammier picked off a runner at first base.
Wymore drew first blood with a ground ball sacrifice to push a run across and put the Raiders up 1-0. Syracuse was able to even things up when Sam Goering was hit by a pitch. Jacob Gorton followed with a single and Jackson Zastera reached on an error to score pinch runner Grant Stubbendeck.
The Rockets would find themselves down 4-1 in the top of the fourth before Kelson Driever blasted a double to lead off the inning.
Gorton advanced Driever to third on a sacrifice and with one out and Zastera hit a solid single to knock in Driever.
Excellent defense was key for the Rockets in the bottom half of the fourth. Gorton made an diving catch in centerfield that held the Wymore runner at second and the Rockets got out of that inning with no damage.
In the top of the fifth frame, with runners at second and third, Goering hit a fly ball to score Stubbendeck and shrink Wymore's lead to 4-3.   
Wymore was aggressive on the base paths until the fifth inning when catcher Beers, of Syracuse, threw out Ryan Arnold who was trying to steal third. On the next play, Rocket reliever Brammier made a pick off move to first base and got the third out of the inning to keep the Rockets within striking distance.
Syracuse took the lead for the first time in the top of the sixth inning. Studdendeck was able to score on an error by Wymore to tie the game 4-4 and Tanner Loecker slid home after a wild pitch to make if 5-4 in favor of Syracuse.
As if there wasnt enough excitement, Wymore evened things out at 5-5.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Brammier tossed an inning-ending strikeout.
Goering led off the top of the seventh with a single to left. Studdendeck came in to pinch run and made his way to second. After a Gorton walk,  Jackson would reach base on an error and Stubbendeck scored to put Syracuse back on top 6-5. Pinch hitter Andrew Thompson came through  by nailing a single to score Gorton and make it 7-5.
In the bottom of the seventh, Wymore tacked on a run, and with two outs and a runner at third was in position to tie.  Brammier struck out the final hitter and Syracuse won 7-6.
"They are playing together as a team," Syracuse coach Mark Bayless said, "We are peeking at the right time."
Goering started the game for Syracuse on the mound, threw three-plus innings and allowed three hits while striking out three. Brammier pitched the rest of the way and gave up four hits while striking out four. He got the win.
—Story by Waylon Bennett
Juniors 8, Louisville-Weeping Water 7
Izaak Prater’s diving stab proved to be the key play as the Syracuse American Legion Juniors maintained their unbeaten status with an 8-7 win over Louisville-Weeping Water in the winner’s bracket championship on Sunday.
Louisville-Weeping Water had a runner on third base with one out and looked poise to tie the game on a hit to left field, but Prater’s diving grab stole the would-be hit and his throw to third base doubled off Louisville-Weeping Water’s base runner to end the inning and the contest.
Coach Mark Bayliss noted the Rockets’ solid start in the contest as Syracuse posted a run in the first and two more in the third inning to lead 3-0. Louisville-Weeping Water scored a run in the fourth and trailed 3-1.
Both teams had big sixth innings with Syracuse posting four runs and Louisville posting six runs to tie the game 7-7.
A single run in the bottom of the sixth frame gave the Rockets the lead and set up Prater’s heroics in the top of the seventh.
For the game, Syracuse had eight runs on 10 hits and recorded two errors. Louisville-Weeping Water had seven runs on just one hit and recorded six errors.
Pitching the game for Syracuse were Jacob Gorton and Tanner Loecker. Coach Bayliss said Gorton kept the Louisville hitters off balance during his innings and that Loecker did a great job of finishing the game in relief.
—Story by Kirt Manion

Juniors 12, Tri County 2
Monday’s game result against Tri County would have sent to the Syracuse Juniors to the championship round of the C3 Area Tournament win or lose.
With a loss on Monday, the Rockets would have automatically advanced to a winner-take-all championship game on Tuesday night. Teams in that position have sometimes chosen to save pitching and rest their big bats and position players to prepare for that winner-take-all game.
Syracuse didn’t go that route.
The Rockets scored twice in the first, second and third innings to grab a 6-0 lead and never looked back on the way to a 12-2 final score.
Coach Mark Bayliss said Kelson Driever’s great start on the pitching mound allowed the Rocket offense to get going. Tanner Loecker pitched 2.2 innings of relief and didn’t allow Tri County to develop thoughts of a come back.
Offensively, Coach Bayliss said he was pleased with his Rocket squad and noted that the team got hits throughout its batting order.
Quality pitching and a sence of offensive urgency gave the Rockets a win and set them up for a positive entry into the championship round.
Coach Bayliss said the Rockets would have it no other way.
“We are not going to play up and give a game away,” said Bayliss.
—Story by Kirt Manion

Louisville-Weeping Water 3, Juniors 0
A double play kept Syracuse off the board in the bottom of the sixth inning and allowed Louisville-Weeping Water to eventually cement a 3-0 win and force a second championship game at the C3 Area Tournament on Tuesday at the Syracuse ball complex.
The Rockets had a chance to score early.  Kelson Driever led off with a  hard hit double but was left stranded. In the top half the third frame Louisville-Weeping Water got a man on base with a lead off double and scored what turned out to be the game-winning run on a past ball.
Syracuse got offense from Brandon Cavanaugh and Driever, doubles, and Andrew Thompson and Izaak Prater, singles. Unfortunately those hits didn’t result in any runs.
Sam Goering for Syracuse and Brayden Hlavac of Louisville-Weeping Water both went the distance in this pitchers duel. Goering took the loss with seven strikeouts and five hits.
—Story by Waylon Bennett

Juniors 23, Louisville-Weeping Water 20
A Brandon Cavanaugh triple broke a 16-16 tie in the top of the seventh inning and the Rocket Juniors eventually found a way to out last Louisville-Weeping Water 23-20 and secure a trip to the Class C state tournament at St. Paul.
Syracuse came out swinging in the top of the first. Jacob Gorton led off with a single followed by an Izaak Prater RBI double. Kelson Driever’s RBI sacrifice knocked in a pinch runner in Grant Stubbendeck and Syracuse led 2-0. Louisville-Weeping Water responded with three runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Syracuse answered right back with a seven run inning to go on top 9-3. Big hits included an RBI single by Tanner Loecker, a two RBI single by Andrew Thompson and an RBI sacrifice by Jackson Zastera.
Syracuse errors would prove costly as Louisville-Weeping Water scored 13 runs in three innings. With the score 16-9 in the fourth, the Rockets escaped a bases loaded situation to keep the margin from growing.
Syracuse eventually settled down as relief pitcher Max Brammier put the team on his back and gave the Rockets a fighting chance. Syracuse tied the game at 16-16 in the top of the fifth inning.
Walks helped spark Syracuse to a seven run inning, along with Izaak Prater's double and singles by Jackson Zastera and Sam Goering.
Gorton drew a walk to open the Rocket seventh and Prater reached on an error. With runners on first and second, Cavanaugh clobbered a pitch that made it all the way to the left field fence.
On the relay home Louisville-Weeping Water threw the ball to the backstop and Cavanaugh ran home to give the Rockets a 19-16 lead. Syracuse added to its lead by scoring four more runs with singles by Goering  Zastera, Brammier and Prater.
Down 23-16 Louisville-Weeping Water cut into the advantage.  Still down 23-20 with two outs, Louisville-Weeping Water recorded a pop up and Brammier made the catch to end the ball game and send Syracuse to state.
Brammier also got the win on the mound.
—Story by Waylon Bennett