Remember those Smith Barney commercials back in the day?
"They make money the old-fashioned way, they earn it," the late John Houseman proclaimed in his thick English accent.
Well, if Oneonta High's baseball team tops its 2012 season with the program's first Class B state championship Saturday, the last three words of Houseman's statement certainly would apply to the Yellowjackets.
In their last two games, they've beaten teams responsible for winning the 2011, 2010 and 2009 Class B state championships.
First, they beat 2011 champ Chenango Valley, 11-10, scoring four times in the bottom of the seventh inning May 24 to win their first sectional title since 2002.
Then, behind the three-hit pitching of senior Ben Moxley, they downed 2009 and 2010 state champ Westhill, 4-1, this past Tuesday in a state quarterfinal.
"I believed in our guys that we could go a long way and they believed in themselves," OHS coach Joe Hughes said after Tuesday's win against Westhill at DeLutis Field in Rome. "It's a great feeling because of the type of guys they are."
OHS (22-2) will need to win twice Saturday at Conlon Field in Binghamton, the site of its sectional final win over CV. The first step comes against Section Five champion Wayland-Cohocton at 1 p.m. in the second of two Class B state semifinals at Conlon Field.
The Golden Eagles (19-5) needed some late-game magic Wednesday and Thursday to earn their spot in the state semis, beating Section Six's Fredonia, 8-7, in eight innings at Dansville. They trailed, 7-5, when rain stopped play Wednesday in the sixth inning. After a 2 1/2-hour delay, W-C rallied to tie the score at 7 with two runs in the bottom of the seventh before darkness suspended play.
On Thursday, C.J. Ellis scored from second on an infield throwing error in the bottom of the eighth to give W-C the victory.
Section One's Briarcliff (22-4) and Section Two's Albany Academy (19-5) will play in the 10 a.m. semifinal at Conlon Field. The championship game is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Conlon Field.
Left-hander Mike Calkins is scheduled to pitch for Oneonta against W-C. A senior, Calkins has both of Oneonta's losses this season _ 4-1 and 2-1 setbacks to Class AA schools Niskayuna and Union-Endicott, respectively. Calkins also has a no-hitter against Class AA Horseheads.
"We expect he'll give us a strong game," Hughes said of Division II University of Tampa recruit Calkins, who allowed five runs in three innings during the sectional final. "He's certainly pitched some quality baseball games for us and we expect a quality outing."
It's unlikely the Golden Eagles will use their No. 1 pitcher.
Right-hander Evan Englert, who is 12-2 with a 1.87 ERA according to the website maxpreps.com, threw the final three innings of their victory over Fredonia. That means he pitched two innings Wednesday and one inning Thursday.
"I think it's a big advantage," Hughes said of playing Tuesday and W-C having its quarterfinal extended to Thursday. "Mother Nature wreaked havoc on those teams. We practiced Thursday and Friday and everybody is rested. We got our work in and our conditioning in. It's a routine we're comfortable with. It's unfortunate they had to face that weather."
W-C coach Steve Wager said Englert _ the school's valedictorian _ wants to pitch.
"He's been a workhorse," Wager said of Englert, a quarterback who'll play football for Carnegie Mellon in the fall. "We have to see if he can even pick up the ball the tomorrow. He wants to. He's a little tight, but he's a really resilient kid, a tough kid."
Tyler Brown (4-1, 2.43 ERA) and Collin Burke also pitched in the quarterfinal for the Golden Eagles.
"We're worn out," Wager said.
Hughes said assistant coaches Mike Jester and Josh Rumenapp scouted the Golden Eagles on Wednesday.
"They're a solid team and a good-hitting team," Hughes said. "They had to battle through the elements, with rain and thunder and lightning. They're probably breathing a sigh of relief they don't have to play two days in a row (shortly after Ellis scored the winning run Thursday, it started raining). They're a good-hitting team, so we'll need to get some good pitching and good defense."
Tim Weidman has hit four of his team's six home runs this season. He has a .388 average and a team-best 27 RBIs. Brown's .402 average is a team high and he has 21 RBIs. Tyler Theigles is hitting .362 with a team-best 32 runs scored. Burke has a .349 average with 20 RBIs.
Conlon Field has extremely short fences, including 360 feet to center field.
"Do we have any sinker-ball pitchers who induce groundballs?" Hughes said of playing at Conlon Field, where Calkins hit a three-run shot to right in the seventh inning of the sectional final that tied the score at 10. "But both teams have to play on the same field. We can't worry or be thinking too much (about the short fences). Our pitchers have to execute their sequences the way we want, keep them off-balance, change speeds and not let them get comfortable. We have to make quality pitches and they have to pitch to our guys, too. I'm not too overly concerned about that."
Hughes said he'd like to see leadoff hitter David Wright continue his recent production at the plate. Wright, a left-handed batter, has reached base in eight of his last nine plate appearances. Wright went 3-for-3, walked and was hit by a pitch against CV, then went 1-for-2 with a walk and a hit by pitch against Westhill.
"That's pretty good for a leadoff hitter," said Hughes, whose program lost, 10-3, to W.T. Clarke in the 2002 Class B state final, its furthest venture into the postseason. "When you get on base eight out of nine times, that immediately puts pressure on the other team and immediately gives your team confidence. We feel like we're ready to create and make something happen. If the leadoff guy gets on, the dynamic of an inning changes. Defensively it changes and offensively it changes. It's always crucial."
No. 3 OHS hitter Chris Pindar is coming off a 3-for-3 day that included three RBIs and an intentional walk in the sixth inning.
"I heard their pitching is pretty good and they have some boys who can hit the ball," said Wager, whose team has overcome a combined 11 errors to win its last two games.
If OHS wins the first game, Hughes will have a huge decision to make in regard to who will pitch in the state final. Seniors Moxley (7-0), Mark Giallanzo (7-0), Conor Youngs (3-0) and Sean Getman (3-0) are among the available arms.
"Our pitching staff is well-rested," Hughes said. "Pitching should be a big advantage for us."
In the other semifinal, Briarcliff will try to advance to the state final for the second straight season. It lost, 7-4, to Chenango Valley in last season's Class B championship game.
Junior Spencer Kulman is the team's top pitcher, with an 8-2 record and a 1.96 ERA. In the Bears' 5-2 win Monday over Spackenkill in a state-tournament opener, Kulman struck out 12 and walked nine. He also has a .418 batting average with 24 RBIs.
Left-hander Paul Henshaw earned the win in Briarcliff's 13-5 victory over Babylon in a state quarterfinal Tuesday, striking out three and walking none. Henshaw is 10-0 with a 2.22 ERA.
Seniors Justin Brock and Tyler Hynes have led Albany Academy at the plate, with respective .455 and .448 averages.
Ben Brown earned the victory in AA's 11-0 state-quarterfinal win over Saranac on Wednesday. He struck out five and walked none in a three-hitter. On the season, he's 6-2 with a 1.98 ERA. Ted Smallwood (3.33 ERA) also has a 6-2 record for AA.
Rob Centorani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.
Yellowjackets to face Wayland-Cohocton in semifinal at 1 p.m. Saturday
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