UTICA – District V champion Utica Post played its worst game of the season during the first round of the New York State American Legion Baseball Tournament.
Depew, the District 8 champs, took full advantage of 11 free passes and five Utica errors in rolling to an 11-0 victory in six innings Saturday evening at Murnane Field.
Alex Bish pitches five strong innings, striking out seven, while scattering three hits for Depew, which advances in the winner’s bracket to play Schenectady at 5 p.m. Sunday. Cleanup Ryan Voight had three hits and four RBIs for Depew, which blew the game open with four runs in the third and five in the sixth.
“This is the first time we’ve been here since I’ve been on the team,” Bish said. “I think it’s the first time in about 15 years that we’ve made it here, so it was nice to get a win.”
Anthony Giglio tripled and doubled for Utica, which is back in action bright and early Sunday with a 9 a.m. start against Vestal Post in an elimination game.
“We were very sloppy,” Utica Post head coach Vic Castronovo said. “You can’t come to the state tournament and make four or five errors and expect to come out on top.”
The uncharacteristic poor play started on the game’s first at-bat as Depew leadoff Dom Monti lifted a soft fly ball to shallow right field. Utica right fielder Myles Felton had a long way to go, but overran the ball a bit and couldn’t come up with the play for a two-base error. Monti would come around to score on an infield single for a 1-0 lead.
Utica had chances in each of the first two innings to knot the score or take an early lead. Vincenzo Castronovo had a two-out double to right-center field in the first, but was stranded.
After Felton made a run-saving diving catch to end the top of the second, Utica mounted a two-out rally in the bottom of the inning. Giglio started things with a triple down the right-field line, before back-to-back free passes loaded the bases, before Bish settled in an struck out leadoff hitter Rob Conley to end the threat.
In earning the victory, Bish, a southpaw, expertly mixed a tailing fastball and an effective curve. After the second inning, he retired nine of the next 10 batters as Depew steadily extended its lead.
“My curveball was working,” said Bish, a rising sophomore at Niagara Community College. “It was moving a lot and the curve in the dirt was getting a lot of swings and misses. I like throwing in on guys and broke a few bats today.”
In the top of the third, Depew gained some breathing room against Utica Post starter Chris Godlewski, scoring four runs (two earned).
Connor Duck and Ryan Mansell drew back-to-back walks to start the inning and Voight and Paul Tripi followed with RBI singles to make it 3-0. Manager Tony Sekuterski’s team then executed some small ball to perfection to extend the lead as Collin Reformat moved the runners to second and third with a sacrifice bunt.
With Godlewski starting his motion toward the plate, Voight broke for home and Ethan Krakowski laid down a nicely-executed suicide squeeze to make it 4-0. Mike Kupecki followed by drawing a two-out walk to put runners on the corners and manufactured a run by getting caught in a run down while Tripi crossed the plate before the tagout for a 5-0 lead.
“He didn’t have his best stuff, but I think he pitched well enough to keep us in the game,” Coach Vic said of Godlewski. “It should’ve been closer than 11-0 … that’s for sure.”
Depew added a run in the fifth off Godlewski, and then five more in the sixth off reliever Brandon Treen. The inning was ignited by Voight’s towering two-run double off the top of the right-field wall.
“I just wanted to put the ball in play,” said Voight, an incoming freshman at Brockport State. “I wasn’t trying to do too much. I’m the four-hitter and was trying to get guys in.”
Up 11-0, Sekuterski went to Tyler Brill – another southpaw – to close out the game in the bottom of the sixth. After allowing a leadoff double to Felton, Brill struck out three straight to end the game early under the 10-run rule.
Depew barely out-hit Utica (5-4) but played flawlessly in the field and allowed just three free passes. Getting that first victory was crucial for Depew, which can advance to the winner’s bracket final with a win Sunday.
“It’s really big,” Voight said of getting the win. “There are a lot of good teams here and we were showing what we can do. … We’re looking to carry this forward and build on our momentum.”
All of Utica’s four hits went for extra bases. Stringing a couple of them together Sunday could go a long way to the District V champs being able to extend its season. Coach Vic is looking forward to see how his team bounces back from Saturday’s poor performance.
“Now we’re facing elimination,” Coach Vic said. “It’s something we haven’t been up against and we’ll see what our makeup is.”
-Defending champion Rockland dominated tournament host Adrean Post 13-1 in Saturday’s nightcap. Adrean faces an elimination game at noon Sunday vs. Clinton County. Rockland plays Rayson Miller at 8 p.m. Sunday night in a winner’s bracket game.
-In Saturday’s early games at Murnane, Schenectady County defeated Vestal 3-2 in eight innings, while Rayson Miller rallied with four runs in the top of the seventh to edge Clinton County, 8-7.
-In the Junior State Championship, Endicott edged the Rockland Pirates 5-4 Saturday morning at Utica College to win the title.
Depew 11, Utica 0
Depew 104 015 X—11 5 0
Utica 000 000 X—0 4 5
W: Alex Bish. L: Chris Godlewski. 2B: Depew, Voight; Utica, Anthony Giglio, Castronovo, Felton. 3B: Utica, Giglio.
New York State Senior Legion Championships
at Murnane Field
Saturday – July 28
Game 1: Schenectady County Indians 3, Vestal Post 2 (8 innings)
Game 2: Rayson Miller Post 8, Clinton County 7
Game 3: Depew Post 11, Utica Post 0 (6 innings)
Game 4: Rockland Pirates 13, Adrean Post 1
Sunday – July 29
Game 5 – 9 am: Vestal Post vs. Utica Post
Game 6 – 12 pm: Clinton County vs. Adrean Post
Game 7 – 5 pm: Schenectady Post vs. Depew Post
Game 8 – 8 pm: Rayson Miller vs. Rockland Pirates
Monday – July 30
Game 9 – 1 pm: Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 7
Game 10 – 4 pm: Winner Game 5 vs. Loser Game 8
Game 11 – 7 pm: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8
Tuesday – July 31
Game 12 – 4 pm: Winner Game 9 vs. Winner Game 10
Game 13 – 7 pm: Winner Game 12 vs. Loser Game 11
Wednesday – August 1
Game 14 – 12 pm: Winner Game 13 vs. Winner Game 11
Game 15: approximately 30 minutes after completion of Game 14 (Necessary if Winner game 11 loses game 14)