UTICA — Chris Ubner carried the load for Cooperstown during most of Sunday’s Section III Class C championship game. But when the time came for others to take charge, the rest of the Hawkeyes responded.
Excellent defense and just enough timely hitting backed up a stellar pitching effort from Ubner as Cooperstown staved off a late rally to defeat Oriskany, 2-1, in eight innings Sunday at Donovan Stadium.
“A lot of different things come into it. It’s not one guy, we call it a family,” Cooperstown coach Frank Miosek said.
Second seed Cooperstown led, 1-0, for most of the game as Ubner held Oriskany to one hit through six innings. But a leadoff walk, a throwing error and a wild pitch in the seventh saw Kegan Kraeger tie the game for the Redskins with two outs.
A double put runners on second and third, and Cooperstown coach Frank Miosek called on Kendall Haney. The sophomore answered the call, not for the first time, by striking out Hunter Pratt to end the inning.
“Kendall and I work great together on the mound, going back and forth like this it’s really good,” Ubner said.
Haney, who had committed the error that helped the Oriskany seventh inning progress, continued his redemption in the eighth after Jackson Martz reached on an error to lead off. Ryan Lansing sacrificed Martz to second, and Haney singled a 3-1 pitch into right field, putting Cooperstown back in the lead.
“My approach was good. I was expecting a fastball and he threw the curveball, but I threw my hands at it and something good happened,” Haney said.
Oriskany threatened again in the eighth with runners on first and second, but Haney forced a swinging bunt that the Cooperstown pitcher scooped up, tagging out Graziadei on his way to first base and tumbling backward after the collison.
By the time he regained his feet, Cooperstown was celebrating its second section title in three years.
“There’s a case of someone saying, ‘you aren’t gonna beat me.’ He protected it with his heart, his body, his soul,” Miosek said. “He’s quite a player, but it’s a team thing and of course he couldn’t have done it himself.”
Armstrong and Ubner controlled the majority of the game before the seventh inning. The teams combined for just four hits – three for Cooperstown and one for Oriskany – through six. Ubner finished with 6 2/3 innings pitched, striking out seven and walking four.
“I was just trying to stay calm and stay in the zone, and it worked out,” Ubner said.
Clean defense by the Hawkeyes and a few remarkable plays by both teams highlighted the quality pitching. Haney turned a 6-3 double play to end the first and stole a base hit on a line drive up the middle in the second.
Cooperstown catcher Sam Bonderoff caught a Redskins’ runner stealing in the fifth, and provided a backstop as the rest of the Hawkeyes played error-free baseball with just the one exception.
“We said coming into this game that we couldn’t commit errors and we didn’t,” Miosek said. “We had seven errors against Little Falls and three or four the other night but that’s high school baseball.”
Armstrong finished with four strikeouts for Oriskany, and his ability to locate his offspeed pitches kept Cooperstown from scoring in most innings. The game’s only other run came in the third as Ryan Lansing singled in Sam Rhodes after Rhodes opened the inning with a single and reached second on an outfield error during the play.
Lansing was 2-for-3 with a RBI and a stolen base. Jesse Furnari was also 2-for-3 for the Hawkeyes.
Postgame celebrations included promises that the Hawkeyes “aren’t done yet.” Cooperstown will take on Section IV champ Tioga in the regional final Saturday at Binghamton’s NYSEG Stadium at a time yet to be determined.
“Heading into regionals, the confidence is way up,” Haney said. “We feel great and we are really believing in each other.”
“It feels very, very good to win a section title,” Miosek said. “We got the cake with the league, now we’ve got some icing, now let’s go get some candles.”
Cooperstown 2, Oriskany 1
Cooperstown …… 001 000 01 – 2 6 1
Oriskany …… 000 000 10 – 1 4 3
Chris Ubner, Kendall Haney (7, W) and Sam Bonderoff. Steve Armstrong (L) and Carl Graziadei.
2B: Steve Armstrong (O), Dylan Lasalle (O).