BATAVIA – Cam Ringo admitted his arm was tired. But when the Hamburg baseball team needed one final punch Saturday night to clinch a trip to the state final four, there was no one better to be the closer.
Ringo put the finishing touches on a strong start by Bulldogs No. 2 arm Jake Mertowski, and Hamburg beat Honeoye Falls-Lima, 7-3, in the Class A Far West Regional Saturday night at Dwyer Stadium.
Four nights after throwing 121 pitches in eight innings against Olean in the Section VI overall Class A final, Ringo needed only 31 pitches to shut down the Section V (Rochester area) champions. The senior ace entered after Honeoye Falls-Lima (15-10) had scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, cutting the Bulldogs’ lead to 6-2. Ringo went on to throw 2∑ innings of hitless ball, striking out three batters and sending Hamburg (20-4) to the state championships for the first time.
When the Binghamton commit took the mound, the Bulldogs could sense they were bound for the Binghamton area, too.
“I knew it was over right there,” said Mertowski, who allowed four hits over 4∏ innings. “No one’s hitting him.”
That was the hope of Hamburg coach Steve Chaffee.
“He told us earlier today before he even threw a ball that he was good for two or three innings,” Chaffee said of Ringo. “When he said two or three innings, I knew that Cam’s going to say more than what he’s really worth. … He definitely was not himself, but I’ll tell you, he was good enough. A slightly above-average Cam is better than most.”
Hamburg will meet Section II (Albany area) champion Queensbury in the state semifinals at 1 p.m. next Saturday at Maine-Endwell High School.
The Bulldogs lost in their previous two Far West Regional appearances (2008 and 2011).
Reaching the final four has been the team’s goal for a few years, Ringo said.
“My freshman year, that was always the goal – get to Binghamton,” he said. “Last year was the first year that I felt was our biggest shot, and we fell a little short. This year is more of a tribute to last year and the boys with us. We’re carrying over the legacy from last year and bringing it to this year and getting as far as we can go.”
Hamburg pounded out 10 hits Saturday and made the most of its opportunities, scoring four runs with two outs. The Bulldogs scored two runs off two wild pitches and another on an error. Mertowski, David Edie, Griff DeMayo, Ryan Dils had two hits each.
Looking ahead to next weekend, Hamburg hopes to showcase its one-two pitching punch one more time, with both Ringo and Mertowski getting starts.
“We’re at the top of our games right now,” Mertowski said. “Heading to Binghamton, I feel like you can’t stop us right now.”