BOONVILLE – During Monday’s Junior Legion District V Tournament battle between division champions, the difference between winning and losing was razor thin.
The difference-maker was Oneida Post’s starting pitcher Ryan Chevier, who threw a two-hitter to help keep his team unbeaten with a 5-2 victory over Whitestown Post at BYAA Sports Complex.
The victory vaults Oneida (19-0) into the championship game, which will be held Wednesday at BYAA. Whitestown (22-3) plays the winner of Roberts/Love at 1 p.m. Tuesday in the losers’ bracket final. Roberts and Love play at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Chevier struck out eight and got stronger as the game progressed. After giving up two unearned runs in the first inning, he cruised over the final six. He yielded just a one-out single to Phil Sacco in the fourth inning and didn’t allow a base runner over the final three innings.
“This feels amazing,” Chevier said. “It’s probably one of the best pitching outings I’ve ever had. I peppered the outside corner and kept them off balance and changed their eye levels. I just tried to pound the strike zone and let our defense do the work. Then our bats finally got going.”
Whitestown carried a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth behind a stellar pitching performance from Doug Rando, who allowed just one hit over his first four innings.
In the top of the fifth, Zach LaQuay started the inning by reaching on an error. Ty D’Arcangelis followed by drawing a walk and Dan Myatt advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt. Leadoff hitter Luke Albro then came up big, tying the game with a one-out single to right center and Oneida’s rally was just getting started.
Henry Froass reached on an infield single and Jordan Barlow drove home what became the winning run with a hard grounder that ricocheted off the third base bag and into left field to score Albro for a 3-2 Oneida lead.
After a long flyout to left by Chevier for the second out of the inning, the home team kept the pressure on as Vinny Leibl gave Oneida some insurance with a two-run soft liner into right to score Froass and Barlow for a 5-2 lead.
“We just tried to hit it where it’s pitched,” said Leibl, who had two hits on the day. “Chev kept us in it and we kept fighting and finally scored some runs. It’s exciting to play against a good team and was a great game to play in.”
Rando allowed three earned runs and gave up just five hits in five innings. Jake Montrose, who had Whitestown’s other hit, struck out three in pitching a scoreless sixth.
The win not only places Oneida in the District V championship game, it also qualifies them for the next weekend’s New York State Junior Legion Tournament at DeLutis Field in Rome. Two teams from District V advance to states, so whoever advances to play Oneida in the final also qualifies.
Whitestown head coach Rich Gnatek gave all the credit to Oneida and Chevier.
“(Chevier) pitched well,” Gnatek said. “But you have to have more than two hits to beat a good team. He got into a rhythm. He was working really quick and he was pumping it in there. His curve ball was good too. They deserved to win. They played better.”
Gnatek also is looking for his team to finally break out with the bats.
“Whoever it is, we have to come ready to play. We have pitching. That’s not the problem, we just haven’t been hitting well. We haven’t been getting any timely hitting. We pop out a lot and we need to put the ball in play more often and make the opponent make plays. We are giving up too many easy outs.”
For Oneida coach Ty Mallinder, his team hasn’t been challenged too often this season and Monday’s victory proved a lot.
“It’s not easy starting off slow,” he said. “But this shows the type of team we have … to be able to recover and get the win.”
Oneida 5, Whitestown 2
Whitestown 200 000 0—2 2 2
Oneida 000 050 X—5 5 2
Nick Sardina is a writer for midyorksportsreport.com. Follow Nick onTwitter @nsardinamysr or on Facebook. Contact him via email at