When Cooperstown takes on Pierson in Friday’s Class C baseball semifinal, both teams will be just one game shy of playing for the ultimate prize in high school sports — a state championship.
Raising the stakes even higher for both schools is the fact that neither has won a state title.
Cooperstown (19-4) made an appearance in the Class C semifinal game in 2017, but lost to Potsdam, 6-2.
Pierson, which will travel to Maine-Endwell high school from Sag Harbor, made it to the 2014 title game before falling to Hoosic Valley, 7-2.
“States are special and we emphasize doing the homework,” Cooperstown head coach Frank Miosek said. “These guys buy into what we’re doing and won’t try and do anything different just because we’re trying to win our first state title.They’re self-disciplined and you really appreciate it as a coach.”
Pierson comes into Friday’s game after a 5-2 win over Section XI champion Tuckahoe in the quarterfinals. According to The Sag Harbor Express, Pierson has a 5-12 overall record, and its quarterfinal victory was its first game in 21 days.
The Hawkeyes will likely face Pierson ace Matt Hall on Friday. Hall, a junior, threw a complete game and allowed two runs on 83 pitches against Tuckahoe.
“That is quite the feat, throwing a complete game at this level on just 83 pitches,” Miosek said. “We have to handle his curveball and be selective at the plate.”
The Hawkeyes plan to give the ball to sophomore Kendall Haney. Haney relieved starter Chris Ubner after 1 1/3 innings in the team’s 8-7 quarterfinal win over Tioga. He lasted 3 1/3 and allowed two runs while striking out three.
“He throws in the 70s and has good off-speed stuff,” Miosek said of Haney. “It’s similar to what he does at the plate. He’s always thinking the game and he’s a calm, collected person who uses perspective. He’s serious but he likes to have fun. If he hits his spots, he’s as good as anyone.”
As good as Haney’s been on the mound, his bat has been even more productive. A .380 hitter during the regular season, he’s gone 11-for-14 at the plate during the playoffs, including three doubles in the win over Tioga.
A lineup that features Ryan Lansing, Haney, Ubner, Ben Tafuro, catcher Sam Bonderoff and state quarterfinal hero Jesse Furnari will have to work to get to Hall.
As far as the Pierson batting order is concerned, Miosek admitted they don’t know a whole lot about the team traveling more than 280 miles for Friday’s game.
“We honestly don’t have much on their order,” Miosek said, “We’ve seen some box scores. We’ll figure it out as we go along.”
Friday’s winner advances to Saturday’s state title game at Binghamton University. The game is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. against the winner of Friday’s other semifinal between Ticonderoga and Gananda.
Miosek said no matter what happens this weekend the team recognizes how successful they’ve been to this point.
“If we were to lose there will be no disappointment,” he said. “It’s been a pleasure to work with this team. They’re a bunch of blue-collar workers that work together. When it ends it’ll be a sorry day, but that’s win or lose.”