In There! Smith Post’s Drew DeBlasiis (12) gets back to 3rd base safely as Middletwon 3rd baseman Grant Chenoweth (3) searches for the throw.

Jeff Pexton-MHTS/PGI Photo


ball21-121x130With a fresh pallet of drying agent ready and waiting in the maintenance garage at Murnane Field, and all games reduced to seven innings for the remainder of the tournament, the New York State American Legion baseball playoffs continued on Friday morning, as the field continues to be whittled down.

Smith Post 24 of Rome, and Middletown Post 161, originally scheduled to play yesterday at 5 p.m. in a winner’s bracket game, were rescheduled for the first game of the day today, at 11:00 a.m..

Melvin Roads and Clinton County, were rescheduled for today, at the same time, at a newly designated tournament location, Notre Dame High School, also at 11, as officials scrambled to get things back on track after a long and trying day on Thursday.

Smith Post 24 relief pitcher Matt Zakala (24) deals a 6th inning pitch.

Josh Walker, a hard throwing leftie, took the hill for Middletown. Steve Eychner, a University of Rochester player, took the mound to Smith.

Middletown jumped right out to a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, as Eychner didn’t have his usual control in the early going.

Tom Walraven drew a leadoff walk and Schuyler Martire was hit by a pitch, to start things off.

Josh Walker’s sharp single, to right center, scored Walraven from third and the Cobras took a quick 1-0 lead.

Brian Guzman then drew a base on balls, to load the bases, with nobody out. Andrew Overton’s SAC fly to center field, scored Martire and Middletown took a 2-0 advantage.

After a ground out in the infield, Jon Lindau drew a two out walk to load em’ up again.

ball21-121x130Grant Chenoweth ripped a liner into the gap in right center, clearing the bases and putting the kids in red up by a score of 5-0, which is the way the first inning would end.

Middletown increased the lead to 7-0 in the bottom of the second. Schuyler Martire strarted things off with a single, stole second and went to third on a passed ball.

Josh Walker then ripped his second hit of the ball game, scoring Martire. Andrew Overton knocked in Walker, with a single of his own, and the Cobras took a seven run advantage to the third inning.

Smith had a tremendous opportunity to get back into the game in the top of the third, when Bernie Adorino, Drew DeBlasiis and Josh Mazzaferro collected consecutive no out walks.

Middletown’s Grant Chenoweth (3) drills a double as Smith catcher Josh Mazzaferro (10)looks on.

Middletown pitcher, Josh Walker, then caught Eychner napping and picked him off first base for the first out.

Walker then got Jeff Cooke and Ryan Reilley to ground out and fly out, to end the inning.

Middletown made it 8-0 in the bottom of the third, when Sam Fontanez walked, stole second and third, then scored on an RBI single, off the bat of Tom Walraven.

ball21-121x130After a scoreless fourth inning, Smith Post finally broke through in the top of the fifth, cutting the Middletown lead in half, with four big runs.

Joe Izzo led off with a walk, followed by a single by Bernie Adorino. Drew DeBlasiis reached on a fielder’s choice that caught Adorino and second base and put runners at the corners for Steve Eychner, who singled, scoring Izzo, to make it 7-1. 

DeBlasiis later scored on an RBI single from Jeff Cooke, to make it 8-2. A balk by Walker to Ryan Reilley, scored Eychner, to make it 8-3.

The Romans got to within 8-4, when Reilley singled and Cooke scored from third, when Middletown center fielder Brian Guzman’s throw to home ended up out of play.

Trailing 8-4 in the seventh inning, Smith loaded the bases yet again and appeared poised to pounce on Middletown reliever, Sam Fontanez, who walked a batter, gave up a single and walked two more batters.

Middletown’s Josh Walker slides toward second base as Smith Post shortstop Steve Eychner awaits the throw from home.

Fontanez dug in though, and got Matt Zakala and Joe Izzo to ground out and fly out, to end the inning and the contest.

ball21-121x130With momentum certainly swinging back toward Smith in the middle innings of this game, Romans who know this team have to be left wondering what might have happened if this game went the nine innings that it was originally slated for.

The Roman’s coming out of the winner’s bracket Wednesday and not playing on Thursday, were forced to play an elimination game immediately following this one against New Hartford Post 1376, an 11-7 winner over Ferris-Goodridge, late Thursday evening.

Middletown will now face Clinton County, a 4-1 winner over Melvin Roads, in a winner’s bracket game at 6 p.m. this evening, at Murnane Field.

According to Tournament Officials, a winner must be declared by midnight on Sunday and be ready to head to Old Orchard Beach, Maine, for Regional play next week on Tuesday.

Middletown Post 8 Smith Post 4

                         1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E

Smith Post          0 0 0 0 4 0 0 4 8 1

Middletown Post  5 2 1 0 0 0 X 8 7 1