UTICA, NY – After getting knocked out in the second round of last year’s Section III playoffs, the West Canada Valley Indians were out for redemption. On Saturday at Murnane Field, the Indians got a little bit closer to that redemption, and they wouldn’t be there without their senior leaders.
Senior first baseman Mason Schloop and his classmate, pitcher Matt Tobin, had a field day in their sectional semifinal on Saturday, both players going a combined six-for-eight in the batter’s box. Tobin helped his own cause admirably, smacking two triples and striking out twelve Frankfort-Schuyler Maroon Knights en route to an 11-3 victory.
“[Tobin and Schloop] are our senior leaders. They’ve been around, they know what it’s like in the sectionals,” West Canada Valley head coach Greg Jones said. “I feel comfortable when they’re on their game. I know the kids will fall behind them.”
Frankfort-Schuyler head coach Mark Spina said the same thing about the St. John Fisher-bound Tobin, who went 5 2/3 innings today. “He’s a senior, he’s been in this spit before,” Spina said. “He knows his stuff.”
This was certainly evident from the outset, where Tobin spent the first three innings seemingly toying with the Maroon Knights’ batters. The senior let several runners get on base with no outs, including loading up the bases in the third. However, Tobin would find his groove once again, getting three straight outs with seemingly no problem. “Everything was working for me today, especially my curveball.” Tobin said of his performance on the mound. “Everything felt good coming out of my hand.”
Meanwhile, the bats were rocking early for the Indians, and Tobin helped his own cause early on, knocking his first of two triples on the day in the bottom of the first, scoring sophomore Logan Rubas to get the early lead.
The Indians truly broke the game open in the bottom of the third inning, though, on the strength of five singles. The Indians also benefitted from a line-drive double from Schloop that scored a run from Cade Smith. In all, West Canada Valley batted around in the bottom of the third, picking up five runs on six hits and sitting on a 6-0 lead after just three innings. Sophomore Connor Lynch and senior Steve Morreale also contributed to the West Canada Valley outburst in the third, knocking in two runs each.
Frankfort-Schuyler was not about to roll over, however, and they proved it in the very next inning, picking up two runs on a line drive to center by Michael DeRollo. They would pick up another in the top of the fifth, when the second of Evan Dickan’s two doubles on the day scored pinch runner Darryl Padula.
“They battled…I’m proud of their effort today,” Spina said. “I couldn’t ask for more from them today.”
However, across the field in the opposing dugout, the senior leaders, especially Tobin, were firing up the rest of the team. “We just told them, don’t let up,” Schloop said. “We knew three runs weren’t going to be enough, and we had to go get some more.”
Unfortunately for the Maroon Knights, the bottom of the fifth proved to be their undoing, as the Central Connecticut State-bound Schloop scored two of the three runs in that half of the inning. However, the scoring started off with a squeeze bunt by Lynch that resulted in Morreale scoring from third on the play. Schloop would pick up his RBI first, lacing a ball into the third base gap that would score Smith. The senior would get home just two batters later, on a single from fellow senior Connor Maxwell.
The Indians would add some insurance in the bottom of the sixth for good measure, and the incoming C.S. State Blue Devil would find himself at the forefront again. After a sacrifice fly ball from Christopher Crossett, Schloop slammed a line drive that would score the final run on the legs of Cade Smith.
From there, it was all up to freshman closer Aidan Maxwell, who came in relief for Tobin in the top of the sixth and got the last four Maroon Knights out in a row to put the game away and punch a ticket to the Section III final for the Indians.
“This is a huge game for us,” Tobin said of the Indians’ performance. “Now we know we can beat big competition…that’s great for us going forward.”
For Spina, a great season that saw the Maroon Knights win a surprising Center State Conference Second Division title ended just short of Onondaga Community College and the sectional finals. However, Spina showed no disappointment in what was a relatively young Frankfort-Schuyler team. “We played well enough to get to this point,” Spina said. “They know what we expect…we’ll get them to work and get back here next year.”
For Jones and the Indians, they will make a return trip back to Onondaga Community College where in 2016, Tobin, Schloop and the rest of the West Canada Valley dominated en route to a sectional championship in Class D. Now that the team is in Class C, they will face one of two powerhouses in the class: either Sauquoit Valley or Little Falls (who were still playing at press time). Despite the increased competition, Jones was confident his seniors would keep the underclassmen’s heads on straight come Monday.
“It’s easy for the kids to get ahead of themselves,” Jones said. “We just tell them one game at a time, one run at a time. At that point, when you get to the finals, everyone’s got a chance. [But] I like the way we’re playing…that’s a fair assessment.”
“It’s great to be back where we are,” Tobin said. “We’ve been here before…we’re just going to tell everyone to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”
“I’m just a support guy…they know me from football. Matt’s the one who leads in baseball,” Schloop said. “I tell them every day, play behind Matt. He’s unbelievable. I just hope the young guys look up to us and come along for the ride. If we keep playing like we have, the sky’s the limit.”
West Canada Valley Indians 11, Frankfort-Schuyler Maroon Knights 3
Section III Class C Semifinal @ Murnane Field, Utica
Knights 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 3 7 1
Indians 1 0 5 0 3 2 X 11 13 1
WP: Matt Tobin (5.2 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 12 K)
LP: Jason Yelle (2.1 IP, 5 ER, 8 H, 1 K)
WCV – Aidan Maxwell.
F-S – Tyler Rosati, Josh Graziadei.
WCV – Mason Schloop.
F-S – Evan Dickan 2, Michael DeRollo.
WCV – Tobin 2.
Total LOB: Frankfort-Schuyler 8, West Canada Valley 4.
Records: Frankfort-Schuyler 12-8 (10-5 CSC-II), West Canada Valley 16-1 (11-1 CSC-III).