BY RYAN COBB Sports writer
Staring pitcher Patrick Manna and his superb defense behind him kept Parkhurst Post’s chances of getting a spot in the District V playoffs intact after shutting down visiting Ilion Post, 3-0, during American Legion baseball action on Tuesday night at DeLutis Field.
The Oriskany High School product outpitched Ilion’s Dan Colburn on the mound to grab his second win of the season while giving up six hits and striking out five in a complete game effort.
Manna was very pleased with his efforts since he has not seen a whole lot of action on the hill this year for either Parkhurst nor during the high school baseball season.
"I seemed to have lost, not my arm, but my focus since high school," he said. "I just felt a lot better. I was more confident up there, so it felt real good. My fastball was the most consistent throughout the game, and my curveball, I started really hitting my spots with it and they chased it."
His only two real tough innings came in the first two frames. Manna allowed Murray to reach on a leadoff single in the first but got out of the inning when Xavier Schafer grounded back to him for a 1-6-3 double play. He also allowed three hits and a walk in the second, however no Ilion runner came around to score. The Parkhurst defense got a force out at third base, catcher Dan Buehler then caught Ryan Fahy stealing third for the second out and Manna got out of a bases loaded jam with a groundout to shortstop Pat McGrath by Mike Belmont.
Ilion stranded seven runners on base in the contest and even had one last shot in the seventh when they brought the tying run to the plate with one out following singles by Tim Nicolette and Joe Juliano, but no damage was done. Rich Lusby struckout looking while pinch-hitting for Belmont and Murray flew out to second to end the contest.
"I wasn’t worried about it because my defense made plays the whole game," Manna said. "We’re so relaxed, and we have so much fun that our defense just comes naturally. There isn’t a lot of doubt. We fit in where we need to."
Parkhurst Team Manager Don Rothdiener felt the key part of Manna’s outing was his consistency.
"Pat Manna pitched a whale of a ball game," he said. "He kept the hitters off-balanced the whole night. It wasn’t anything special. He just spotted his curveball and fastball. He’s just coming through now. It takes awhile for the pitchers to warm themselves up."
Colburn received the hard luck loss on the hill after giving up the three runs off five hits and struckout seven through six innings. Colburn walked Manna to begin the bottom of the first, which came back to bite him when he stole second base, then advanced to third on a flyout to right field and came around to score when Adam Broski grounded to second for a 1-0 lead.
Parkhurst later scored their other two runs in the fourth when Matt Senus came home from second off two infield throwing miscues that started on a grounder to Colburn by McGrath, and Broski connected for his second RBI on a single to score Zack Ciotti from third, all with two outs.
Matt Moore also led the team in the hits column with two, as Parkhurst’s record moved to 4-5 in the league and kept them in line for a spot in the district tournament. The Oriskany squad is ninth in the standings, tied with New Hartford and Moran Sylvan Beach, behind eighth place Roberts Post at 5-6.
The top eight teams in the district qualify for the playoffs. Ilion falls to 12th in the standings with a 4-6 league mark.
"This is a great win and it keeps us in the playoff picture," said Rothdiener, whose team hosts Moran Sylvan Beach on Thursday at 7 p.m. at DeLutis Field.