ORISKANY – With the near-constant rainouts plaguing Central New York all season, it should be no surprise it would come to this: a week of almost non-stop games.
Nowhere is this more prevalent than in Friday night’s matchup in Oriskany between the Redskins and the Dolgeville Blue Devils. Joel Walrath’s Blue Devils have been on the diamond for five out of the last six days, while Tom Meiss’ Oriskany squad have done the dreaded four-in-four, with a doubleheader to be played on Saturday.
“It’s been a long week,” Walrath said. “It’s our fifth game in six days, and I think it finally caught up with us tonight.”
Unfortunately for Dolgeville and senior starting pitcher Matt Maine, it caught up with them too quickly, as Oriskany got behind the lights-out pitching of junior John Longeretta and never looked back, while senior Ricky Phelps knocked two extra base hits in the Redskins’ 12-3 victory. The game was called in the sixth inning due to the mercy rule. Hudson Valley Community College-bound senior Riley Nagle and freshman Brady Wilcox were the major contributors for the Blue Devils, both going three-for-three, with Nagle picking up a double in the first.
“The whole year, I’m just trying to be the best I can be,” Longeretta said of his performance, which included a five-strikeout day on the mound and a three-for-four day at the plate. “Today, I guess, was one of those days where it all came together for me.”
It certainly looked that way for the junior right off the bat, though Longeretta would surrender a hit by senior James Baisley to start out, and Nagle would have Dolgeville threatening early. However, Longeretta would settle down after some early jitters, shutting down the Blue Devils in the first by striking out Toby Weber. Longeretta would help out his own cause in the bottom of the inning, ripping a line drive to center that would score Phelps.
The Redskins picked up another two runs in the bottom of the first, when sophomore Colton Davis and senior Colin Kraeger put together back-to-back base hits to bring in those runs. All in all, Meiss was pleased at his Redskins’ ability to jump out to the early lead. “It was nice to see us hit early,” Meiss said. “We’ve been slow to start the last few days, and it’s nice to jump out in front, get the lead and have someone chase us. I think we needed that to boost our confidence. Hitting’s contagious…to start out like that really built our confidence.”
The Redskins would jump out to an even bigger lead in the second, taking advantage of three errors by the Blue Devils to put four runners on base before Maine could record the first out of the inning. Phelps would kick the scoring off with a bang, slamming a ball deep into the outfield to score the first two runs on a triple. The senior would get home on an error on the very next batter, while another extra-base hit, this time a double by Davis, scored another one. In all, 11 Oriskany batters stepped up to the plate, scoring six runs on just four hits.
“We dug too deep a hole [today,]” Walrath said. “We had too many lapses defensively…you can’t beat a good team giving up outs like we did today.”
Thankfully for the Blue Devils, Longeretta’s shutout would come to an end in the fourth on the bat of the future Hudson Valley Viking. Nagle’s line drive to right field would score Wilcox and Baisley. Wilcox would add a run of his own in the fifth, slamming a hard line drive of his own down the first base line to drive in a run.
“[Wilcox] played well today,” Walrath said. “It was a really good effort for him today.”
The Redskins rose to the occasion, however, matching the Blue Devils’ run output in just one inning. Oriskany plated another three runs in the fourth, two off of a hit through the gap to score senior Aaron Drake and Phelps. Meanwhile, on the mound, despite the three runs given up, Longeretta and reliever Colton Davis shut out Dolgeville the rest of the way, giving up one run on only four hits to put away the game for good. With the win, the Redskins have won seven straight and scored at least ten runs in four out of their last five games.
“We were just thinking way too much [in the late innings,]” Longeretta, who picked up the win for the Redskins, said. “As a team, no matter how many errors we get, we just try to play our game…slow it down and settle down. As long as we play our game, everything will go out way. As a team, our arms are going to get sore and our play might be sloppy. But, as players, we just talk about controlling the game and playing the way we play…that’s something we have to take pride in.”
Despite the lopsided win, Meiss was quick to heap praise on his opponent.
“Dolgeville showed they can compete, and they’re a tough team,” Meiss said. “I think the whole division is strong…this is a really big in for us, because West Canada Valley, Dolgeville and Oriskany are still fighting for the title with just a couple weeks to go.”
Despite the fact that they still had a long way to go – Oriskany still had several games to make up in the two weeks leading up to the sectional playoffs, as did Dolgeville – Longeretta was optimistic that his team would come out on top.
“I’ve been loving the way we’ve been playing,” the junior said. “As long as we can keep it up, anything can happen.”
Oriskany Redskins 12, Dolgeville Blue Devils 3
Blue Devils 0 0 0 2 1 0 – 3 11 3
Redskins 3 6 0 3 0 0 – 12 12 2
Game called in the sixth inning – mercy rule
WP – John Longeretta (4.2 IP, 3 R, 10 H, 3 BB)
LP – Matt Maine (5 IP, 12 R, 11 H, 3 BB)
Dolgeville – Brady Wilcox.
Oriskany – Aaron Drake, Colton Davis.
2B – Dolgeville: Riley Nagle. Oriskany: Ricky Phelps, Longeretta, Davis.
3B – Oriskany: Phelps.
Total LOB: Dolgeville 12, Oriskany 8
Records: Dolgeville 9-4-1, 7-4 CSC-III; Oriskany 10-1, 8-1 CSC-III.