UTICA — After rapping out 49 hits in their first four games in the New York State American Legion Baseball Tournament, the Clinton County Mariners’ bats went cold Sunday afternoon at Murnane Field.
So cold that West Seneca Post #735 pitcher Matt Keating tossed a perfect game in his team’s 6-0 victory over the Mariners (28-10) in the finals of the double-elimination event.
Keating finished with six strikeouts, while inducing nine ground-outs and six fly balls to retire everyone he faced.
The closest the Mariners came to getting hits were line-drive outs to the outfield by Jack Tolosky and Robby Knowles in the fourth inning.
“I read once that 90 percent of winning baseball is pitching and defense,” said Mariners’ coach Matt Tolosky. “That certainly rang true today.
“We did hit the ball — their pitcher had only six strikeouts. But we couldn’t afford to get behind him in the count because he wasn’t going to walk anyone. After the first couple of innings, we were aggressive and swung at a lot of first-pitch fastballs.”
Conor Casey started and took the pitching loss for Clinton County, which finished with a 3-2 mark in the tournament. Knowles went 5.1 innings in relief and allowed two runs, with one being earned.
“It was disappointing that we couldn’t get any runs to support our pitchers,” said Tolosky. “Especially with how well we hit the ball earlier in the tournament.
“The ball didn’t bounce our way today. Everything we hit seemed to go right at them. At no point were we able get any momentum.”
Liam Kelly gave West Seneca the lead with a two-run single in the first inning. William Sulkowski added a RBI single in the second for a 3-0 lead.
Matthew Sokolski tripled in a run in the third before Kelly added a run-scoring double in the in the fifth, with another runner crossing the plate on the only error in the game for a 6-0 West Seneca lead.
West Seneca, after losing its opening-round game to Middletown Post #151, advanced all the way to the state title through the loser’s bracket.
“The coaching staff is extremely proud of our players,” said Tolosky. “We finished second in the state out of 131 American Legion teams and that’s quite an accomplishment.
“We felt we represented Clinton County very well. This is a young team, with much of the team eligible to come back next year. After spending five nights in a hotel and playing a very challenging schedule, these young players did the North Country proud.”
West Seneca 6, Mariners 0
West Seneca 211 020 0 — 6 12 0
Mariners 000 000 0 — 0 0 1
Keating and Prentice. Casey, Knowles (3) and Roenbeck. WP- Keating. LP- Casey. 2B- Kelly (WS). 3B- Sakolski (WS).
SMITH POST #24 2MARINERS 1
The Mariners were within one strike of a win Saturday night, but ended up dropping their first game of the tournament after three wins.
Jeremy Barber gave Clinton County a strong pitching start. He struck out two, walked four and allowed two hits over the first six shutout innings with the Mariners holding a 1-0 lead.
But he walked the first two batters in the seventh and Tanner Rascoe took over. A sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third, with one out. Rascoe struck out the next batter for the second out before facing Drew DeBlassis.
DeBlassis, down to his final strike, singled up the middle to drive in the tying run. Two batters later, Cooke walked with the bases-loaded to plate the game-winning run.
Cooke went the distance for the pitching win for the nearby Rome-based team. He surrendered eight hits, but struck out eight and had just two walks.
Adam Goldfarb paced the Mariners with three singles, while Mitchell Cunningham added a double and single. Knowles, Chris Roenbeck and Marcus Lefebvre each singled.
The Mariners’ run came in the fourth when Cunningham doubled with two out and scored on an infield error.
“Barber did an outstanding job,” said Tolosky. “But we weren’t able to manufacture the runs we did in previous games to support him.
“We had our fair amount of chances. We stranded 10 runners and had the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning.”
The loss did not keep the Mariners from advancing to the championship game. But what it did was take away Clinton County’s luxury of having to be beaten twice in the championship round.
Smith Post 2, Mariners 1
Mariners 000 100 0 — 1 8 3
Smith Post 000 000 2 — 3 3 1
Barber, Rascoe (7) and Roenbeck. Cooke and Mazzaferro. WP- Cooke. LP- Barber. 2B- Cunningham (M).