Leading off today:
If I were king for a day in New York high school sports, I think one of the first changes I would implement would be to turn all sectional finals in baseball into best-of-three series spanning no more than three or four days.
Some NYSPHSAA sections and other organizations already use that format, which is the great equalizer because it forces teams to trot someone besides their staff ace to the mound. In my opinion, that makes it more of a team competition; the best hitters will be playing the whole series, but the best pitchers would more or less be done after seven innings that week.
For instance, Monsignor Farrell and Salesian will play a winner-takes-all Game 3 Friday after a wild Game 2 Thursday in the CHSAA finals as the Lions fought off elimination for the sixth time this postseason.
Monsignor Farrell's Vin Vitacco, hitless in five previous at-bats including leaving the bases loaded twice, delivered the go-ahead run in the 12th inning of a 12-7 victory to know the series at 1-1.
"I tried to forget about that stuff as much as I could," Vitacco told The Daily News. "I just wanted to make contact, and just give my team a chance. It's a great feeling looking at my team in the dugout going crazy."
Vitacco's run-scoring hit opened the floodgates as the Lions scored six more runs in the nearly four-hour game. They forced extra innings by rallying for two seventh-inning runs after getting down to their final out with no one on base, as Tom Medina delivered a two-strike, two-run single.
That completed Farrell's rally from a 5-0 deficit through three innings.
"Unbelievable, to be down 5-0 and come back against a quality team," Farrell coach Bob Mulligan said. "We were down to our last swing. Today's game has been a microcosm of the last two weeks. We just battled and battled and fortunate to come out on top."
Friday's game becomes winner-take-all for the two schools, neither of which has ever won the 69-year-old CHSAA "AA" tournament.
Almost doubling down: The NYSPHSAA track and field championships begin Friday at SUNY Albany without Erika Tillotson -- but just barely.
The Victor sophomore hurdler came close last weekend to qualifying for the state meet, but maybe it's just as well that she didn't since she already had plans for this weekend. Back in the fall, she qualified for the state girls golf championship at SUNY Delhi, also being held this weekend.
"I had to sign a sheet after the Section 5 championships," Tillotson told The Daily Messenger. "I had already committed to golf and I knew that before (the track qualifiers), but I wanted to see if I could still qualify."
Such a two-sport double wouldn't even be a possibility for most New York girls since golf is a spring sport for most of the state. Section 5 holds its season in the fall, partly to