Medina’s first state playoff baseball team had a wild ride all the way to the semifinals

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 7 June 2019 at 8:57 am

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Medina players celebrate after capturing the 2003 Section VI Class B championship with a 10 inning 11-9 win over Allegany-Limestone. In front are Andy Watts, Paul Osborne, Jake Rosenbeck, Cory Frasier, Bobby Brown and Ryan Hodgins. In back are Brett Bielak, Joe Rosenbeck, Zach Baldwin, Matt Heiligenthaler, Brandon White, Brett Grollmes and Tom Schoenle.

When Medina takes to the turf field at Lockport on Saturday for the Far West Regional it will mark just the second time the Mustangs have ever competed in the state baseball playoffs.

The first time came 16 years ago and if ever there was a team that lived up to the old sports adage of “peaking at the right time” it was that 2003 Mustangs squad.

Coming off a so-so 8-6 Niagara-Orleans League season, the No. 7 seeded Mustangs caught fire in the post season rattling off five straight Class B victories, four against higher seeds and three in extra innings, to advance all the way to the state semifinals.

Setting the tone for that amazing run, Medina nipped No. 10 East Aurora 1-0 in 8 innings at Vets Park in the opening round of the Section VI Class B playoffs on a two out RBI single by Bobby Brown in the bottom of the eighth.  Joe Rosenbeck went the distance on the mound limiting the Blue Devils to only 2 hits while striking out 12.

The Mustangs only “breather” during that run then came in the quarterfinals with a 19-2 romp over No. 2 City Honors at Buffalo.

Things quickly got back to tense in the semifinals as Medina nipped host No. 3 Eden 4-3 in 9 innings. Tom Schoenle drove in the winning run in the top of the ninth and then triggered a clutch double play in the home half of the frame to lock up the narrow win.

That extra inning trend continued in the Section VI Class B championship game as Medina had to go 10 to outlast top seeded Allegany-Limestone 11-9 at Sal Maglie Stadium in Niagara Falls. An RBI single by Jake Rosenbeck drove in the game winner in the 10th and an error added an insurance tally.

The Mustangs had to rally from deficits of 4-1 after two innings and 8-4 after five. A two-run triple by Joe Rosenbeck keyed a third inning rally which tied the game at 4-4. A two-run single by Cory Frasier, an RBI single by Ryan Hodgins and an error then reknotted the contest at 8-8 in the sixth.  The Mustangs later retied the gam at 9-9 in the seventh as Joe Rosenbeck tripled and came home on a fielders choice playoff the bat of Brown forcing extra innings.

That wild win sent Medina into the state playoffs for the first time and the Mustangs kept their post season win streak going with a 4-0 victory over Section V champion Sodus in the Far West Regional at Dwyer Stadium in Batavia. Joe Rosenbeck hurled a sparkling 1 hitter with 9 strikeouts. A three run fourth inning on two fielders choice plays and an RBI single by Matt Heiligenthaler provided more than enough offense.

That victory advanced Medina to the state semifinals at Binghamton for what proved to be a rain interrupted two day contest and  a 9-1 loss to Carle Place (Section 8).

The contest started on a rainy Saturday morning and Medina quickly grabbed a 1-0 lead on a home run by Joe Rosenbeck.  However, the Mustangs would get no more runs and just one more hit off South Carolina University bound Carle Place pitcher Billy Simpson.

Carle Place pulled even with a run in the second inning before increasing hard rain forced play to be suspended until Sunday.

Sunshine greeted the teams on Sunday morning and Carle Place wasted little time in taking the lead for good at 3-1 on a two-run homer in the third inning. Carle Place then broke the contest open with a big four run fifth inning highlighted by back-to-back home runs,

Carle Place went on to capture the state title with a win over Marlboro.

Saturday Medina will look to begin that state title quest again when the Mustangs face Section V champion LeRoy in the Class B Far West Regional at Lockport’s Beattie Ave. turf field at 3 p.m.