Aug. 01--Taylor Jones delivered the knock-out blow to the Sherrill Silversmiths on Wednesday, when Oneonta Outlaws teammate Carson Waln proved he can take one on the chin.
Left fielder Jones threw out Alex Saville at the plate in the ninth inning to secure a 5-4 victory that pushed the defending New York Collegiate Baseball League champion Outlaws into the Eastern Division championship series.
Although Waln nearly lost his mask in a collision at home with Saville, who didn't slide, the Outlaws catcher held onto the ball for the final out as Oneonta won at Damaschke Field to clinch a first-round Eastern Division playoff series, two games to one.
The next step for the second-seeded Outlaws (29-20) was undetermined at press time late Wednesday night as the third and final game of the other first-round playoff series in the East -- between the regular-season division champion Geneva Red Wings (31-17) and the fourth-seeded Syracuse Salt Cats (24-24) -- started after 9 p.m. because of rain in the Geneva area.
Steve Pindar, the Outlaws president of operations and general manager, said via email Wednesday night that the site of Oneonta's next game depended on who won the other first-round series in the East.
If the Salt Cats won, the Outlaws will host the first game of the best-of-three Eastern Division championship series at 7 tonight at Damaschke Field. If the Red Wings won, Oneonta will take a road trip to Geneva today.
Regardless, the Outlaws extended their season with a nail-biter Wednesday.
Oneonta took a 5-4 lead into the final inning, which opened with reliever Daniel Ferrell walking Saville. Christian Triplett sacrificed Saville to second before Justin Datillo flew out to Jones in left field for the second out. That left Sherrill's playoff fate in the hands of Oneonta High graduate David Wright, who pitched the third-seeded Silversmiths (24-25) to an 8-3 victory with a complete game in the series opener Sunday at Damaschke Field.
Sherrill's designated hitter for Wednesday's series finale, Wright singled to left field on a 2-0 pitch from Ferrell. Saville attempted to score on the play but was cut down by Jones -- an NYCBL Eastern Division All-Star this season -- at the plate to end it.
Ferrell earned the save with two innings of relief. He struck out two, walked one and allowed one earned run -- on an RBI groundout by Kevin Brice in the eighth inning -- on two hits.
Oneonta starter Jeremy Roberts gave up an RBI single to Triplett in the second inning and failed to get an out in the third, leaving with runners at the corners following back-to-back singles by Wright and Ellington Hopkins.
Ethan Evanko took over on the mound and gave up a sacrifice fly to his first batter -- Bryan Baquer -- before getting a strikeout and a groundout to end Sherrill's at-bats in the third.
Baquer's sacrifice fly tied the score at 2 as the Outlaws scored twice in the bottom of the second, on RBI singles by Waln and Ben Mauseth.
Oneonta scored two more runs in the fourth against Sherrill starter Jack McClure, who gave up a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to Daniel Fickas and an RBI single to Ramon Osuna Sanchez.
Baquer's leadoff double in the sixth set up an RBI single by Brice with one out, pulling the Silversmiths to 4-3.
Evanko followed with a scoreless seventh en route to the pitching victory in relief. Evanko hit Wright with two out, and the Oneonta State sophomore stole second but was stranded when Hopkins grounded out to first for the final out of the inning. Evanko struck out three, walked none and allowed one run on two hits in five innings of relief.
Oneonta got a key insurance run in the seventh with a two-out rally sparked by a walk to Waln. Tyler Martis then singled and Kody Ruedisili walked to load the bases for Ben Mauseth, who missed a first-pitch strike. McClure's pitch went wild, though, allowing Waln to score for a 5-3 Oneonta lead.
McClure, who struck out four, walked five and scattered 10 hits, got out of the inning when Mauseth flew out to left field.
Baquer started another Sherrill rally with a leadoff single in the eighth. He then stole second and third before scoring the final run on Brice's groundout to shortstop.
Baquer went 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI to pace Sherrill, which received one run in a 2-for-3 effort from Wright.
Waln finished 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI for the Outlaws, who got two hits, a run and an RBI from Mauseth. Oneonta's 10-hit night also included singles by Jones, Jimmy Hand and Matt Pelt.
All three playoff games between Oneonta and Sherrill were played at Damaschke Field, which drew an announced attendance of 1,402 fans Wednesday. The teams were scheduled to play Game 2 at Sherrill on Monday, but heavy rainfall moved the game to Damaschke Field on Tuesday. The Outlaws won Game 2, 3-2, to force Wednesday's series finale.
Also Wednesday, the regular-season Western Division champion Hornell Dodgers capped a first-round playoff series victory, two games to one, with an 8-4 defeat of the Niagara Power. Hornell will host the Geneva Twins in the first game of the Western Division championship series today.
The Twins advanced with a 7-1 victory over the Rochester Ridgemen on Tuesday night as Geneva won its first-round Western playoff series, two games to one.
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