2014 District 5 American Legion Champs-Henry P. Smith Post of Rome!
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SMITH ROUTS NEW HARTFORD TO REPEAT AS DISTRICT 5 CHAMPS
MARCY – Smith Post manager, Tony Abone Jr., sent out 15-year-old, Tyler Schoff, to try and tame the red-hot bats of New Hartford Post in the District 5 title game Friday at SUNYIT’s Peter A. Spina Field.
Schoff, who will be a sophomore at RFA in the fall, got the job done, silencing New Hartford’s bats and getting plenty of offensive support as Smith blew the game open with a 10-run fifth inning en route to a 16-2 victory to repeat as District 5 champions.
Both teams had already qualified for next week’s New York State American Legion Tournament beginning Wednesday at Murnane Field. Smith plays at 8 p.m. Wednesday vs. District 9, while New Hartford plays District 7 at 5 p.m.
After dropping its opening round game 5-4 to Whitestown Post on Sunday, New Hartford Post had scored 62 runs and belted out over 60 hits in winning its next five games, including Thursday night’s 8-4 win over Smith that forced a decisive title game.
Schoff had to be sharp and precise with his pitches. He also used a pitcher’s best friend, the double play ball, to stifle New Hartford’s impressive run. In all, Smith turned five double plays in the shortened, seven-inning game, including one in each of the first three innings that thwarted New Hartford’s attack.
He scattered seven hits in seven innings and aside from a New Hartford’s two-run sixth, kept the opposition off balance.
“We didn’t play our best last night, so I just wanted to help our team today,” Schoff said. “I wanted to go out there, throw strikes and help our team get the title. Everything just came together for us today.”
Smith manager, Tony Abone Jr., was proud of his young pitcher and showed faith in his young hurler by giving him such a great opportunity.
“He has good stuff and he’s very composed,” said Abone. “Sometimes I’m not sure if he has great composure or if he’s just too young to realize the situation, but he really pitched well today. He did a good job of keeping the ball down and that was the key to getting those double plays.”
With Schoff taming New Hartford’s bats, Smith’s offense took advantage of every opportunity it received. Smith batters did well to work the count, while also putting the bat on the ball on two-strike counts to move runners. They also took advantage of four New Hartford errors to quickly pull away.
Smith scored twice in the first and fourth innings to grab a 4-0 lead, then blew the game wide open with a 10-run fifth to cruise to its fourth District V title in the past seven seasons.
Smith leadoff, Drew DeBlasiis, set the table all day, belting three hits and reaching safely in five of six plate appearances. DeBlasiis drew a walk to lead off the game and scored on Jeff Cooke’s RBI single off New Hartford starter, Peter Cougan to give Smith a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. Cooke later scored on Tony Pacicca’s single to right to give Smith a 2-0 lead after the first.
In the fourth, Joe Izzo reached on an error moved to second on Bernie Adorino’s sacrifice bunt. After another DeBlasiis walk, both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch, then scored on Cooke’s two-run single off of Noah German to make it 4-0.
In the fifth, Smith post sent 16 batters to the plate and racked up eight hits and 10 runs. After back-to-back singles by Pacicca and Gavin Hickey, Izzo plated two with a single to make it 6-0.
Izzo then scored on a triple down the right field line by Adorino that just eluded the outstretched glove of a diving Doug Owen. DeBlasiis then singled home Adorino and scored on Cooke’s third hit of the game.
The inning just got worse for New Hartford, as it seemed every Smith ball, hard hit or not, found a hole and the game quickly spiraled out of control.
Cooke, who plays for MVCC, finished with four RBIs and made the most of his plate appearances.
“After last night we knew we had to come out early and take away their momentum,” said Cooke, who is in his fourth and final season with Smith Post. “They played six games before today, so it was important for us to come out and play well early and we did just that. My job is to move runners and come up with big hits when we need them. I’m one of the leaders on this team and that’s what I expect of myself.”
For DeBlasiis, this win was much sweeter than last year’s, when Smith was rewarded the title after Whitestown and New Hartford were disqualified after a brawl.
“It’s great to win it on the field this year,” said DeBlasiis, who will be playing for Brockport State. “I think that’s what really drove us this year.”
“We took advantage of everything today,” said DeBlasiis. “They had errors and we had big hits. Baseball is a game of inches and we took everything we got today and turned it into our favor.”
Now DeBlasiis and his teammates will try to improve on last year’s third-place finish at states.
“Everyone has to chip in next week,” DeBlasiis said. “We competed well last year and I see no reason we can’t do well this year. We just have to go out and play our game.”
Hickey, Izzo and Matt Zakala also had a pair of hits for Smith Post.
Nick Whalen had two hits and Brad Moore had an RBI single for New Hartford.
New Hartford manager, Wayne Manderson, is proud of his team’s run and optimistic heading into states.
“We wanted to give certain guys some swings heading into states and we gave some of our pitchers some needed rest, so we should be pretty fresh next week,” Manderson said. “We didn’t lay down today, we just wanted to rest our guys who needed the rest. We are in great shape heading into states and have momentum on offense. We are really in solid shape.”
New Harford won the state title in 2006 and Smith has three titles (1955, 1978 and 1998).
After the game Tony Abone was enjoying the moment, but also already had his mind on next week’s state tournament.
“I’m very proud and happy for our kids,” Abone said. “They put in the time and effort and it’s paying off. We are now looking for a fourth state title and we know it’s not going to be easy.”
Smith Post 16, New Hartford Post 2
New Hartford 000 002 0
Smith Post 200 2(10)2 X
W-Tyler Schoff. L- Peter Cougan. 2B-Smith, Izzo; NH, Moore; . 3B-Adorino.