BINGHAMTON — The Oriskany baseball team continued its spectacular run in the postseason on Tuesday as the Redskins rallied to fend off Section IV champion Hancock in a thrilling 7-4 triumph in the Central Region Class D final at Broome Community College.
Oriskany, which won its fifth postseason game in a row, improved to 18-5 overall and will face the Far West regional champ in the state semifinals at 1 o’clock on Saturday back at Broome CC. The Class D state final at the same site is slated for 4 o’clock.
The Redskins fell behind Hancock 4-0 after the first inning before they chipped away to score two runs in the third inning and then broke the game open during a five-run fifth inning while the pitching staff preserved the victory.
Austin Smith relieved starter Anthony Pickard and didn’t allow a run, gave up just two hits and struck out nine through 5 1/3 innings of work, while Noah Lupini pitched the final inning and struck out two and gave up just one hit to nail down the save and the Redskins’ win.
Cody Murphy provided the big blow in the fifth inning with a two-out, two-run single to put the Redskins’ ahead 5-4.
Alex Liddy and Nate Keating both added an RBI, as Sam Martel doubled and scored a run, and Smith finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, two stolen bases and a run scored.
"It definitely showed a lot of heart with the way that we came back," said Oriskany head coach Tom Meiss, who is in his seventh season at the helm. "We never really got down on ourselves. We knew that there were 18 outs left and we had to take it an inning at a time," added Meiss. "We’ve really been like that all season. These kids never give up, and continue to battle for us every game."
Smith, who improved to 7-3 on the mound this season, also pitched the Redskins to an 8-2 win for their Section III title over Brookfield on Saturday night after his complete-game with 12 strikeouts. It was Oriskany’s first sectional title since they won back-to-back titles under Meiss in 2006-07.
Tuesday’s win also matches the furthest a team has gone under Meiss. In 2007, the Redskins lost in the state semifinals to Chapel Field, 9-4.
The deepest any Oriskany team has ever gone in the postseason was in 1993 when the Redskins fell in the state finals.
"Smith was just unbelievable for us, and he has been this whole postseason," Meiss said. "To be able to come back on two days rest for us and shut the door was unreal. He was able to get real quick outs, he stayed ahead of batters, and let his defense make plays for him. He just gives us so much confidence when he is on the mound for us," added Meiss about Smith, who has three wins on the mound this postseason and is batting over .450 at the dish. For Hancock, Rocco Christian drove in two runs and Todd Wainman had an RBI in the first inning before the Wildcats were shut out the rest of the way.