Oriskany seeks first state baseball crown

STATE SEMIFINALISTS — Members of the Oriskany baseball team celebrate after winning the Section III Class D title with an 8-2 win over top-seeded Brookfield last Saturday at DeLutis Field. The Redskins will be seeking the scbool’s first baseball state championship this weekend in Binghamton. (Sentinel photo by Makenzi Enos)

ORISKANY — It’s been an unbelievable journey for the Oriskany’s baseball team this season.

The Redskins dropped their last two games of the regular season against perennial powerhouse and Center State Conference Division IV foes New York Mills before the start of the Section III Class D tournament, and then they haven’t lost a game since, going a perfect 5-0 while rolling through the competition.

Now, it will all come to a conclusion on Saturday as these Redskins will look to do what no other team in the school’s history has done before them, win a state baseball title.

Oriskany will face the Far West Champion, Pine Valley (19-4) from Section VI, on Saturday at 1 o’clock during the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class D semifinals at Broome Community College in Binghamton, while Section IX champion Coleman and Section II winner Fort Ann will compete in the other semifinal contest on the day.

The Class D title game is slated for 4 o’clock at the same site.

Pine Valley is coming off a 3-2 win over Arkport during their state regional game on Wednesday.

Oriskany is 18-5 overall and are coming off a thrilling 7-4 win over Section IV winner Hancock during the Central Regional Finals in Binghamton on Tuesday. A game where the Redskins fell behind as many as 4-0 after the first inning of play and then rallied in the later innings to grab the win and advance to its third state semifinals round in school’s history.

"It starts with confidence," said longtime head coach Tom Meiss. "We knew it at the beginning of the season that we had something special here, but it was the timing of getting everybody going and on the same page during the season that is leading to our success now. We fought through everything, and we are rolling right now. Good things have happened and we hope they continue," he added.

For two more game at least.

Oriskany has won five games in a row first starting with a 17-1 romp over Cincinnatus in the Section III first round, then grabbed a 10-3 road win over Sackets Harbor and then an emotional 6-1 victory over Mills in the semifinals behind the brilliant performance of starter Steve Rossi with a complete-game four-hitter.

Austin Smith then pitched the Redskins to a 8-2 win over Brookfield for Meiss’ third sectional title and then on just two days rest led the team to a 7-4 triumph over Hancock in the state regionals coming to the mound in relief. Smith has been the catalyst for the Redskins all postseason. His .450 batting average leads the team, and he has gone 3-0 on the mound during this postseason run.

Noah Lupini is batting .452 with 26 RBIs and 21 runs scored, Nate Keating sports a .414 average with 21 runs scored and 27 RBIs, Sam Martel is batting .417 with 29 runs scored and has 14 stolen bases, and Pat Manna is batting .361 with 13 RBIs and 17 runs scored.

Keating also has a 3.59 ERA on the mound in 25 1/3 innings pitched, as Rossi has a 2.62 ERA in 18 2/3 innings pitched.

Oriskany lost in the state semifinals during the 2007 season — during Meiss’ second Section III Class D title winning season — and in 1993, the Redskins fell in the state title game.

"It starts with confidence about themselves, playing together as a team, and the chemistry that they have with one another has a lot to do with it," Meiss said. "Regardless of what happens I’m very proud of this team and all that we have accomplished so far this season."