Vestal’s Sean Mullins (14) slides into second as Smith Post’s Steven Eychner (32) starts a sweet 6-4-3 double play. 

Jeff Pexton-MHTS/PGI Photo


ball21-121x130Smith Post 24 of Rome, scored three runs in the top half of the tenth inning, to break a 5-5 tie and held on to defeat Vestal Post 89, by the score of 8-5, in their first round game at the New York State American Legion Tournament this evening at Murnane Field in Utica.

Smith (1-0), one of two District V teams in the field,along with New Hartford Post, will now advance in the winner’s bracket to face Middletown Post (1-0), at 5 pm on Thursday. Middletown defeated West Seneca Post by a score of 6-0 this afternoon. 

Smith Post’s Jeff Cooke (23) pitched all 10 innings, striking out 10 for the win.

The Romans got rolling in the top of the first inning, when starting pitcher, Jeff Cooke, laced a one out RBI single that scored Drew DeBlasiis, to give Smith a 1-0 lead, headed to the home half of the first. 

With one out and a runner at first, Vestal’s, Nick Wegman, hit a sharp grounder to Smith shortstop, Steven Eychner, who flipped to second baseman, Bernie Adorino, who turned and fired to first baseman, Ryan Reilley, for a silky smooth, 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

After a scoreless second inning, Smith made it 3-0 in the top of the third. DeBlasiis led off with a single, followed by a perfect bunt up the third base line for a single by Eychner. Jeff Cooke then continued the small ball attack with another perfect sacrifice bunt, pushing Smith runners to second and third, with one away.

That would be all for the small ball from Smith in the third inning, as Ryan Reilley stepped in and hammered a 2 RBI double off the left field fence, giving Post 24 a 3-0 lead.

ball21-121x130Vestal responded with a big inning of its own, in the home half of the third, as Austin Beck led off with a long double of his own.

Anthony Valent then laced a sharp single into left field, scoring Beck and pulling Post 89 to within 3-1. 

Two batters later, Nick Wegman singled to right field to score Valent. Vestal went to the top of the fourth trailing just 3-2.

Vestal left hander, Nick Wegman, and Smith’s, Jeff Cooke, owned the fourth inning and the top half of the fifth before Vestal took a page out of Smith’s book of small ball and took the lead.

James Lovelass and Ryan Franz reached on consecutive bunt singles and Nick Wegman followed them up with a booming double, off the right field fence, to put Vestal up by a score of 4-3.

Vestal’s Nick Wegman (18) had three hits for his club tonight.

Wegman later came around to score on an infield ground ball by Erick Wortman and Vestal took a 5-3 lead to the sixth inning.

After scoreless sixth and seventh frames, Smith Post tied the game in the top of the eighth.

Steven Eychner singled and went to second on a balk from Wegman to Jeff Cooke.

The balk seemed to rattle Wegman just a bit, as he then walked Cooke and Ryan Reilley, to load the bases.

Singles by Bernie Adorino and Drew DeBlasiis scored  Eychner and Cooke. The two teams were tied 5-5, which is the way this one would go for the next two innings.

In the top of the tenth, Ryan Reilley drew a leadoff walk. Josh Mazzafero then tapped a grounder back to relief pitcher, Kevin Franz.

ball21-121x130Franz overthrew first base, sending Reilley to third base. Pinch hitter, Adam Chimelewski, then singled with the Vestal infield drawn in, scoring Reilley, to make it 6-5 Smith.

Consecutive, two out singles from Bernie Adorino and Drew DeBlasiis scored Mazzafero and Chimelewski, giving Post 24 an 8-5 lead, bringing us to the bottom of the tenth inning.

Jeff Cooke, who is going to give the name workhorse a whole new meaning after this season, took the hill for Smith in the tenth inning and once again, his defense was right at his back. 

After a leadoff single by Erick Wortman, Anthony Silvestri stepped in for Vestal and smacked a line drive toward right field, but Smith second baseman, Bernie Adorino, snatched it out of the air for a spectacular first out.   

Smith Post’s Drew DeBlasiis (12) did it all for the Romans this evening.

With one away, Austin Beck then pounded a line drive into right center field and Smith’s, Drew DeBlasiis, made a dramatic diving catch, robbing Beck of an extra base hit.

Cooke then got Anthony Valent to ground out for the final out of the game, giving Smith Post a hard fought 8-5 victory.

Jeff Cooke picked up another win on the mound, working all 10 innings, scattering 5 runs, on 14 hits, striking out 10 and walking 2. 

Nick Wegman absorbed the loss for Vestal, (0-1). 

Drew DeBlasiis led the Smith offense with three hits and two RBI.

Smith Post 8 Vestal 5

Box Score

                        1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10    R    H   E

Smith Post 24    1  0  2   0  0  0  0  2  0   3     8    12   1   

Vestal Post 89    0  0  2  0   3  0  0  0  0   0     5   14    2