With two appearances in the Class C baseball final four in three years, Cooperstown is trending upward in the sport that’s synonymous with the village. And if the trend continues with a state title for the Hawkeyes in 2020 or 2021, there seems to be little doubt in the minds of Cooperstown’s coaches about who will lead them to that success.
Kendall Haney and Chris Ubner, coached by Frank Miosek and his pitching coach, Matt Hazzard, had a post-season of dramatic accomplishments as sophomores to lead Cooperstown to a 20-5 record and a spot in the 2019 Class C state championship game. The Hawkeyes lost to Ticonderoga, 7-3, in the title game Saturday, June 15, in Binghamton. It was the best finish in Cooperstown baseball history, two years after a trip to the semifinals accomplished the same feat.
For their accomplishments, Haney and Ubner have been named The Daily Star’s 2019 baseball Players of the Year, and Miosek has been named the Star’s 2019 baseball Coach of the Year.
“My assumption is, when it is all said and done, these two will be the record holders for Cooperstown baseball,” Hazzard said.
“Kendall Haney and Chris Ubner are very deserving,” Miosek said. “We had a fine season where they played well, especially at the end of the year.”
Ubner, who plays third when not pitching, led the team in batting with a .461 average, .561 on-base percentage, 35 hits, 22 RBIs and three home runs. He won seven games and struck out 66 batters in 46 innings pitched, with a 2.25 ERA. Haney, who played shortstop when not pitching, batted .413 with a .515 OBP and 33 hits, including four home runs and a school-record 13 doubles. He had a 1.67 ERA and struck out 61 batters in 54 innings pitched.
Cooperstown started the season 4-4, then won 16 straight games before losing in the state championship game. And while Miosek is quick to credit many of his players for the playoff run — junior Ryan Lansing and senior Erik Deysenroth were also strong on the mound, enabling fresh arms and allowing strategic decisions to be made about how to stay within state-mandated pitching limits — Haney and Ubner made more than their share of heroic plays during the state run.
In the Section III Class C championship game Sunday, June 2, in Utica, Ubner pitched 6 2/3 innings and got the win against Oriskany. Haney got the final out for the save and also had the game-winning RBI, plating junior Jackson Martz with an eighth-inning single.
In the state regional Saturday, June 8, in Binghamton, Haney went 3-for-3 with three doubles in Cooperstown’s 8-7 comeback win against Tioga. Ubner started and closed the game. When Ubner got into trouble early, Haney stabilized things, keeping the game close for Deysenroth to get the win and Ubner the save.
In Cooperstown’s 5-2 semifinal win over Pierson on Friday, June 14, in Endwell, Haney got the win and Ubner got the save. Haney had two RBIs, including the go-ahead run, while Ubner went 4-for-4 and scored twice. Ubner took the loss the next day in Binghamton, but Haney’s relief pitching kept the game from getting away from Cooperstown, and he also had a RBI.
Both Cooperstown coaches called Ubner a power player, on the mound and at the plate. Hazzard said despite Ubner’s pitching success, his batting skills, athleticism and strong arm could lead him to developing as a third baseman instead. Haney, meanwhile, is good at everything, but more about skills and finesse; his out pitch is a slider, and his hitting is, while still powerful, also strategic, Hazzard said.
“Kendall is the smoothest, definitely,” Hazzard said. “When he is at shortstop, he is an absolute anchor for the program.”
With Haney and Ubner each having two more seasons at Cooperstown, the coaches are optimistic.
“They (were) only sophomores,” Miosek said. “We have to remember they are still developing as players. We have a bright future, with them and their teammates, and with a lot of good young kids entering the program now.”
The Cooperstown duo kept Oneonta junior Teddy McGraw from becoming a two-time Star Award winner. McGraw, a pitcher and infielder, has committed to Wake Forest.
“Teddy is a phenomenal player,” Hazzard said. “You might argue that Kendall and Chris are not the pitchers Teddy is, but I believe they are both great players on their own. And they had such great postseasons, so I think it is appropriate to say, ‘to the victors, go the spoils.’”
Miosek, 68, also won the Star Award for coaching baseball two years ago, when his pitchers, Taylor Price and Reilly Hall, shared Player of the Year honors. Miosek won three state championships in girls soccer while coaching at Cherry Valley and Cherry Valley-Springfield in the 1980s. He is entering his 31st season coaching boys soccer at Cooperstown Central School and will begin the school year with 424 wins in boys varsity soccer and 332 wins in varsity baseball. Miosek, who won 169 girls varsity soccer games at CV and CV-S, also coached CCS girls basketball for a decade and boys basketball at Cherry Valley for a couple of seasons, giving him more than 1,000 varsity wins. He is a member of the Tri-Valley League Athletic Hall of Fame and a Fetterman Award Winner.
“The thing about Frank is, he is a soccer coach,” Hazzard said. “That’s his background, but he has learned the intricacies of baseball.
“He’s a very old-school coach,” Hazzard continued. “He doesn’t carry a lot of ego with him. He puts a lot of trust and faith in his kids and in his coaches.”
Miosek said he has been blessed by having great kids, a strong community, in baseball and in general, and an excellent assistant in Hazzard, who has taken charge of developing the pitchers and calling games. Miosek also credited his wife, Sue, for enduring the long coaching days and seasons and encouraging him to continue to do what he loves.
“I’ve had a great career,” Miosek said, “but as Don Howard always said, ‘you have to have the horses, or the cart’s not going anywhere.’
“I’m very lucky,” he continued. “I couldn’t be having more fun everyday.”