PLATTSBURGH — In the span of 30 years, a lot can be forgotten.
The 1989 Plattsburgh High baseball team’s state championship run still remains in the minds of many.
Exactly 30 years ago today on a baseball diamond in Little Falls, a group of North Country boys completed a historic run that cemented their names in Plattsburgh lore.
Propelled by a 4-for-4 day at the plate from Rob Scoskie and a four-inning relief appearance by Jason Miller, the Hornets edged Levittown, 5-4, in the NYSPHSAA Class B championship on June 11, 1989.
The victory marked the first state championship of any kind for Plattsburgh and created lifelong memories for all members of Don Pomeroy’s 1989 Hornets.
“It was just a matter of a bunch of kids from Plattsburgh simply overachieving,” Miller said.
“Everybody did their part in the championship game to put us on top. When the game ended, it was a surreal moment, and the rest of that day is something none of us will ever forget.”
THE RETURN HOME
After a three-hour bus ride, the Hornets were welcomed back to Plattsburgh High School by family and friends who awaited the state champions from the moment the final out was recorded.
A large banner saying “Congratulations State Champs!” was hung on the school’s roof for all the players to see as they stepped off the bus.
Plattsburgh’s starting second baseman Warren Horner said the team’s trip back allowed all the players to realize what they accomplished.
“There was a ton of excitement on the bus, and we were playing our boom boxes,” Horner said with a chuckle. “That probably makes me sound old, but that bus trip felt like it took forever for us to get back. I think we got back at like 11 o’clock at night.
“It was a warm welcome when we got back. We had support from our friends and family when we got back to the school, and that was exciting. We had so much to tell them.”
All the boys made sure to relay all the special moments from a game that made a mark on their lives forever.
THE WINNING MOMENT
With the game tied at 4-all in the sixth inning against the Blue Dragons, the Hornets managed to take the lead for good with a little two-out magic.
Horner laced a base hit to right center that turned into a triple and set the table for Miller to drive him in.
“Once I got on base in that inning with Jason up next, we just knew we had something going,” Horner said. “We knew good things were going to happen, and we knew things would just work out.”
Miller found a way to drive Horner in, thanks to Levittown shortstop Tom Hutchison bobbling a grounder from Miller and failing to throw him out at first.
“I was not exactly the fastest guy out of the box, but I found an extra gear on that play,” Miller said. “It was hit hard, and the shortstop knocked it down and made the throw, but I beat the throw out. My lone goal was to drive Warren in any way I possibly could.”
Tom Maston got the nod to start the state title game for Plattsburgh.
The Hornets’ left-handed ace had just pitched the day before, however, going the distance and tossing a two-hitter against Port Chester to help Plattsburgh collect a 7-3 semifinal victory.
Maston had hurled two no-hitters during the regular season and served as the Hornets’ workhorse throughout the year, leaving his teammates confident he could start the championship.
“I remember there were a few guys, I know Jason and Warren were in that group, that wanted me to pitch,” Maston said.
“They were trying to rationalize it by saying that the semifinal game ended so close to the championship that it would be like I was just pitching in the same game. I don’t know how they talked me into that because it was so dumb.”
Maston laughed as he went on to admit he did not have much to offer against Levittown, struggling to generate velocity and spot pitches.
After laboring for three innings, Maston moved to first base, and Miller took over on the mound.
“I felt pretty confident in Jason,” Maston said. “Our whole team felt so confident that day. We felt like that as long as we just kept with it, we would be fine.”
Plattsburgh turned out to be in good hands with Miller on the mound, as he held the Blue Dragons scoreless and stranded six runners on base the rest of the way.
EARLY STAGES OF THE GAME
After two walks, two sacrifice bunts and an error, Levittown jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning without recording a base hit.
Plattsburgh bounced right back and jumped ahead the following frame.
Nate Gahr and Andy Starr notched back-to-back singles that started a three-run inning.
One run crossed the plate after Miller reached base safely on an error.
Chris Dandrow and Scoskie both notched RBI singles to boost the Hornets to their first lead of the contest.
For Scoskie, his RBI knock was his second hit of a perfect day at the plate that included three singles and a booming double.
“I remember it was a beautiful day for that game, and it was one of those days for me at the plate,” Scoskie said. “Everything was a beach ball. I was making great contact, and I was just seeing everything.”
Thanks to his efforts at the plate, Scoskie was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
“They did not even have the MVP trophy to give me at the time,” Scoskie said. “They had to mail me the trophy, which I still have. I have gotten rid of a lot of trophies I got over time playing different sports, but I kept that one. That one is special.”
With a tired Maston toeing the slab, Plattsburgh fell behind again in the bottom of the third when Blue Dragons first baseman Ken Auer blasted a two-run homer.
Once again, however, the Hornets fought back.
In the fourth inning, Miller plated Gahr with an RBI single to even the score at four runs apiece.
“We were one of those teams that never gave up,” Horner said. “I always felt that any opposing pitcher we faced had to have his best game to be able to beat us. We were all tough guys to get out.
“That confidence we had in each other resonated in the dugout, and that never changed regardless of the situation. We never quit. We were a team that came together and stayed together.”
DID HE CATCH IT?
After Plattsburgh took a 5-4 lead, the Hornets had to fend off a pesky Levittown team that would not go away.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Blue Dragons got two on with one out, but Plattsburgh right fielder Marcus Dynko made a diving catch on a shallow fly ball before popping up and throwing out a Levittown runner at second to help the Hornets and Miller escape the inning unscathed.
The play created some controversy after the Blue Dragons claimed Dynko trapped the ball, but the call was upheld and turned into the game’s signature moment.
“I was playing deep on that play,” Dynko said. “It probably didn’t come 30 feet off the ground, and it was shallow. I was on my horse going for it, and I caught it. People say I didn’t, but I did. I really did.
“As soon as I caught the ball, I popped up and threw to second for a double play.”
Scoskie, who was stationed in center, clearly saw Dynko catch the ball.
“In the moment, it almost felt like everything was in slow motion,” Scoskie said.
“There are certain plays you always remember, and that catch is one of them. That catch got us out of a jam and really was the turning point in the game because if that ball fell, we probably don’t win.”
CAPTURING THE TITLE
Down by one in the seventh, Levittown put the tying run on second.
With two away, Plattsburgh’s Mike Poveda fielded a grounder at third and made a clean throw across the diamond to Maston at first to seal the victory.
After the final out, a celebration began that featured a dogpile in the infield with all the players converging on one another.
“That celebration was something none of us will ever forget,” Scoskie said.
“I specifically remember being at the bottom of the pile, and Warren was on top of me grabbing both of my shoulders and shaking me. He was so excited. It was literally hilarious how excited he was.
“We were all excited. When you win a state championship, you don’t really know what to do.”
A TRUE TEAM
Whether it was the two separate deficits they faced, seeing Maston struggle on the mound, finding a way to rally or wondering if Dynko caught the ball, the Hornets persevered.
Dennis Dynko, who started in left field for Plattsburgh’s semifinal, was on the bench during the championship and watched everything unfold.
“There was never a moment in that game when you could relax,” he said. “I think the thing that allowed us to succeed, even when we faced adversity, was we had good chemistry.
“Throughout the season, everyone played at some point and contributed. The guys on the bench were just as important as the players on the field. It didn’t matter who played. Everyone knew they could do the job if their number was called.
“Everyone has to be working for the same goal on the team to have success.”
THE STATE PLAYOFF RUN
After claiming the Section VII crown, the Hornets defeated Section III’s Mexico, 7-0, in a sub-regional and Section X’s Massena, 9-6, to reach the final four.
Against Port Chester, Plattsburgh had heard its semifinal opponent would be tough to beat, but Maston put the Hornets on his back.
“Going into the game, we had heard they were pounding everyone,” Maston said. “I was actually pretty nervous, but I remember I struck the first batter of the game out.
“Once that happened, it was like everything just settled down. I think I remember the first and last out of that game more than anything else.”
The last out of the Hornets’ semifinal win came on a long drive to center that Scoskie tracked down near the wall to seal Maston’s complete game and book Plattsburgh’s ticket to the state championship.
Entering the semifinal round, Port Chester and Levittown had a combined 57-3 record before Plattsburgh defeated both.
“After winning that semifinal game, I don’t really think we cared about who we were playing next,” Maston said. “We just felt so good about ourselves, and we had a lot of confidence after that.
“We were a special team, and the run we went on showcased a lot of little things people may not even know, which is even more cool.”
FLIGHT PUT ON HOLD
One unique aspect to the Hornets’ victory in the state title game included the fact that Scoskie was not supposed to be with the team.
Sponsored by the Plattsburgh Rotary Club, Scoskie was scheduled to take a plane to Wisconsin to attend a World Affair Seminar.
Scoskie put that trip on hold, though, and was glad he elected to stay with his team.
“After we won the semifinal, I had to decide if I was going to hop in a car and go to the airport that night or if I would stay and play,” Scoskie said.
“The fun part about that was my parents were very supportive. Our team was riding such a high going into the state championship game. I knew I had to stay, and my parents agreed. I’m glad I made the choice to stick around.”
Immediately after Plattsburgh won its championship, Scoskie hopped into his parents’ car and changed his clothes on the way to the airport before boarding a plane and successfully making it to Wisconsin for a portion of the seminar.
A SEASON TO REMEMBER
While many of the Hornets excelled on their way to a title, Miller’s season stood out.
Entering the final four, Miller showcased a .491 batting average and served as Plattsburgh’s most reliable hitter.
Days before winning a championship with the Hornets, Miller learned that the Toronto Blue Jays had drafted him.
While he elected to go to college instead of joining the Blue Jays, being drafted by Toronto was one of the many highlights Miller said he remembers about his senior season.
“Everything was going well that year, and being drafted by a professional team was special,” Miller said. “In terms of my success at the plate, I was seeing the ball really well, and when you play a short baseball season like you do when you’re in the North Country, one hot streak can essentially last the entire season.
“The best part about that season for me was just being with the guys, and winning that state title created a bond that will never be broken. It’s something none of us on that team will ever forget.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP FORMULA
While 30 years have come and gone since Poveda made that throw from third over to Maston at first to complete Plattsburgh’s title run, plenty has changed, but the happy memories remain the same.
The 1989 Hornets only improved as the season progressed by the way they carried themselves.
A team prided on its relentlessness, experience and team chemistry found a way to bring a state championship back to Plattsburgh.
“If we were to all walk in a room, one of the first things we would probably talk about is the 1989 team,” Horner said.
“The connection that the state championship made for everyone on that team can never be broken and something we can all hold close forever.”
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