UTICA — Down to their last strike, the Oriskany baseball team scored to tie Cooperstown 1-1 in the Section III Class C final on Sunday, June 2 at Murnane Field.
But Cooperstown immediately got the run back then held off a Redskins rally to win 2-1 in eight innings.
Steve Armstrong went the distance for Oriskany, throwing 80 pitches in eight innings. He struck out three and gave up six hits without walking a batter.
“Steve was phenomenal,” said Oriskany coach Tom Meiss after the game.
“He was cruising,” he said of the decision to send him back out for the eighth inning. “The way we played defense the first few innings allowed them to get back to the top (of the order) in good situations.”
The second-seeded Hawkeyes got on the scoreboard in the top of the third inning.
Sam Rhodes led off with a single and advanced to second when it got by the outfielder. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt then scored on an RBI single by Ryan Lansing.
Meanwhile, Cooperstown starting pitcher Chris Ubner kept the Oriskany bats quiet. He allowed three hits before departing after 6 2/3 innings. He struck out six and walked six.
Top-seeded Oriskany threatened a few times before scoring, getting runners into scoring position in the third and fourth before scoring in the seventh.
With their backs against the wall, John Longeretta led off the seventh for the Redskins with his second walk of the night. Carl Graziadei grounded into a fielder’s choice but the throw back to first was wild and he advanced to second base.
A wild pitch moved him to third and then, with two outs, Kegan Kraeger got his second single of the night, driving him in and tying the game 1-1.
After a double by Dylan LaSalle, Ubner was lifted in favor of Kendall Haney, who got a strikeout to send the game to extra innings.
Cooperstown would get the lead back right away.
Jackson Martz singled to open the inning. After he moved to second on a bunt, Haney singled him home to take a 2-1 lead.
The Oriskany defense shut down a chance to stretch the lead to two when Ubner hit a cue shot up the first base line and Kraeger shoveled a throw to Armstrong covering, who then threw home to cut down Haney trying to score from second base.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Redskins threatened but couldn’t push the tying run across for a second inning in a row. Armstrong doubled with one out, then Longeretta worked his third walk with two outs.
But Haney fielded a grounder up the first base line by Graziadei and held on for the tag as he was bowled over, ending the threat and the game.
“We didn’t get early baserunners, so we needed to get a runner to second,” said Meiss of his offense.
The team successfully pulled off one delayed steal but had another thrown out. “We’ve been aggressive all year.”
Oriskany finished the season 19-4 overall.
Meiss said he was proud of the players, who made it to the sectional finals in the program’s first year in Class C after moving up from Class D.
“These are baseball kids. They love the game,” watching it, studying and preparing, he said.
In 14 seasons at the helm, Meiss has a record of 236-77 and has won six sectional championships.