UTICA, NY — It wasn’t the way Whitestown Post 1113’s junior team wanted the season to end.
Despite suffering their first loss in the New York State title game at Murnane Field, the Whitestown players — many of whom were playing their last game in junior ball — held their heads high as they walked off the field Saturday morning.
“It’s good to get this far,” Whitestown Post left fielder Noah Scranton said. “We would have liked to get farther, but we had a good season.”
“It was a good feeling [to get here,]” first baseman Tyler Kane said. “We had a lot of fun, and we battled through a lot of adversity this season
That season, which saw Whitestown Post rattle off 22 straight wins, ended with adversity that they just couldn’t battle back from. That adversity came in the form of a six-run first inning from the Rockland Post 130 9A Pirates. The first-year team from Southern New York took advantage of four Whitestown errors and hitting up and down the lineup to capture their first New York State Junior Legion Championship, 7-2 over their hosts from Whitestown.
“We put pressure on them by being aggressive,” Rockland head coach Joe Cerniglia said of his team. “We preach fundamentals; our team came in and executed the fundamentals. It was a team effort, and that’s how we preach winning…as a team.”
Fundamentals certainly came in handy right off the bat, as the Pirates got five men on base before Whitestown pitcher Colin Skermont even recorded an out. The first runs of the game, though, would come off the bat of Rockland right fielder Julian Brooks, who smashed a ball to deep left field, allowing two runs to score easily. Brooks would come home just as easily, on a suicide squeeze play by Billy DeSapio that managed to allow both baserunners to reach safely.
Whitestown could hardly be blamed for the shaky start, though. The team was forced to play three games in just a little less than 24 hours, all at Murnane, and culminating in today’s championship game. The scheduling powers for the State Jr. Tournament saw to it that Whitestown (unbeaten coming into the tournament and certainly one of the favorites to take home the title) played the late game on Friday night. That game ended after 10 pm, which allowed them less than 11 hours to prepare for the title tilt against Rockland. However, they would certainly not blame their shaky start on the time crunch.
“I’m not a morning person, but that’s how it goes,” Noah Scranton said. “They had some good hits. We just picked the wrong game to have a bad first inning.”
“It had a little affect on us,” Whitestown head coach Kevin Scranton said, “but we can’t worry about things we can’t control. I don’t make the schedule. We knew we were going to face a good Rockland team. I felt like maybe we weren’t ready to compete, and that’s on me.”
Unfortunately, a bad situation got worse for Skermont, as two different errors by the first baseman and shortstop managed to bring home DeSapio. The crowning touch in the first would come off of the bat of Rockland second baseman Mike Reilly, who would smack another 2-RBI single. That hit would score the two players to make pitching appearances for the Pirates, Nick Varano and Tyler Fidalgo. That also made the score 6-0 with just one out in the inning. Fortunately for Whitestown, Skermont would mitigate the damage, but not before allowing all but one Pirate to walk into the dugout having reached base at least once. In total, 12 Pirates would step up to the plate, racking up those six runs on just five hits and two errors.
Rockland would score again in the second inning, this time as a result of another two throwing errors. DeSapio would reach first on an error by the second baseman, then come home when the catcher threw the ball into the outfield on a pickoff throw. That would be all Skermont would give up, however, only allowing one runner to reach base after that, and even throwing a three-pitch inning in the fifth to keep Whitestown in the game.
After that second inning, the Whitestown bats got going as well. They would push their first run past the plate in the third inning, on an RBI single by catcher Josh Komacek that would score Noah Collea. Whitestown almost brought home another in the third with runners on the corners. However, Fidalgo would buckle down, forcing Ryan Bushey to ground out to end the threat.
“They just jumped on us early, and we weren’t able to capitalize with runners in scoring position,” Kane said.
Whitestown was able to capitalize one more time, though. Collea was able to score once again in the fifth, this time on a passed ball by Fidalgo. Unfortunately, the Pirates were able to keep the scoreboard stuck at just two for Whitestown, catching Scranton off of third base to end the fifth. “We tried to chip away [all game],” Scranton said. “We just couldn’t get all the way back.”
From there, a combined effort of all of the Pirates fielders, including pitchers Fidalgo and reliever Varano, took Rockland the rest of the way, ending a threat in the sixth with a big double play. In the seventh, neither Fidalgo nor Varano had to do very much, with the former allowing just a single and a walk before being pulled for the latter. Varano would seal the deal, grabbing a strikeout on Kane to put a bow on a fantastic first season for the Pirates.
“We just wanted to get the next out, and not have it turn into something big,” Cerniglia said. “Fidalgo put us on his shoulders, Varano closed the door. I couldn’t be more proud of my boys. They do everything I ask of them and more. It’s truly about the team…we’re very proud to be New York State champions.”
However, for Whitestown, a season in which they barreled through District 5 play and a state championship run ends with their first loss of the 2019 campaign. However, the elder Scranton, as well as the rest of the Whitestown roster, could hold their heads high on an almost-perfect season.
“Obviously, the first loss is a bit of a shock,” Scranton said. “[But] they had a heck of a season. Someone has to lose that last game.”
However, as most coaches will tell you, it’s not about wins and losses; it’s about the memories you made along the way. Kane and Scranton, who will likely be moving up to the senior division next year, will certainly carry a lot of those as they finish up their final junior season and look forward to another season next summer.
“I’m going to miss the guys,” Scranton said. “They should have a good season next year.”
“We just couldn’t make it all the way back,” Kane said. “[but] it was a fun season with my team.”
At the end of the day, that’s what Junior Legion Baseball is all about.
Mid-York Sports Report would like to congratulate the Rockland Post Pirates on their New York State championship and the Whitestown Post team on a great season!
Rockland Post 130 9A Pirates 7, Whitestown Post 1113 2
New York State American Legion — Junior Championship
Whitestown 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 2 7 4
Rockland 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 7 7 0
WP: Tyler Fidalgo (6.2 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 3 K)
LP: Colin Skermont (CG, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 K)
Also Pitched: Nick Varano (Rockland).
2B — Rockland: Julian Brooks. Whitestown — Josh Komacek.
Records: Whitestown Post 22-1, Rockland Post 16-1.