Smith Post’s., Bernie Adorino (8), holds his ground trying to turn two, as Clinton County’s, Mitchell Cunningham (1), bears down on the bag.

Jeff Pexton-MHTS/PGI Photo


ball21-121x130For the second, consecutive evening at the New York State American Legion Baseball Tournament, Smith Post, of Rome, got a bases loaded, free pass to win an elimination game.

Last night Rome’s, Joey Izzo, was hit by a pitch, to score the game winner over New Hartford, setting up pretty much a brand new tournament bracket and a date with Clinton County.

Second verse, almost same as the first, as tonight Smith’s, Jeff Cooke, was walked with the bases juiced and two out, in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Cooke’s freebie scored Caleb Blair. Smith defeated Clinton County 2-1, to advance to Sunday’s semi- final against West Seneca, a 9-3 winner over Middletown, earlier today.

Smith Post, West Seneca and Clinton County, each have one loss, but the winner of the 11 a.m. game between Smith and West Seneca will take on Clinton County at approximately 3 p.m, for the New York State Championship. 

DeBlasiis (2)
Drew DeBlasiis (12) and first base Coach Tim Abone react after DeBlasiis drove in the tying run with two out in the bottom of the seventh inning.

The Clinton County Mariners, essentially an all-star team that receives players and support from seven (7) American Legion posts across Clinton County, took a 1-0 lead tonight in the top of the fourth inning. 

Mitchell Cunningham started things off with a two out double off of Smith’s Jeff Cooke.

Then, designated hitter, Ryan Meyer, grounded to shortstop. Smith’s, Steve Eychner, threw the ball over the head of first baseman, Ryan Reilley, and into right field, allowing Cunningham to score the go ahead run for the Mariners.

The remainder of the fourth, as well as all of the fifth and sixth innings belonged to the pitchers, Jeff Cooke, for Smith, and Jeremy Barber, for Clinton County.

Cooke was in complete control all evening, after pitching 10 full innings in Smith’s win over Vestal on Wednesday.

ball21-121x130The seventh inning was about as dramatic as a ball game could get. In the top of the seventh, Clinton County, clinging to a 1-0 lead, loaded the bases with two outs for its power hitting catcher, Chris Roenbeck.

Jeff Cooke found another gear however, and struck out Roenbeck swinging, on just three pitches, to retire the side and extinguish the threat.

The bottom of the seventh was even more entertaining, for even the most casual observer.

Smith Post’s first two batters, Bernie Adorino and Caleb Blair, drew consecutive walks.

Those two miscues signaled the end of the night for Clinton County’s, Jeremy Barber, who was relived by left hander, Tyler Rasco.

Work horse? Not anymore. Jeff Cooke is a War Horse. #23 Has thrown his team to two wins, over 17 complete innings on the mound. All within 4 days.

Joey Izzo stepped in next and laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt, moving the runners to second and third, with just one out.

Pinch hitter, Adam Chmielewski, struck out swinging to bring up Drew DeBlasiis, who has been clutch for Smith throughout this tournament.

ball21-121x130DeBlasiis didn’t disappoint tonight. Number 12 sent a laser beam up the middle for an RBI single, scoring Adorino and tying the game at 1-1.

After Steve Eychner was hit by a pitch to reload the bases, Jeff Cooke strolled to the plate with an opportunity to win it for his club.

Cooke drew a walk, on five pitches, to bring in Caleb Blair and vault Smith post into the semi-final game at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

Jeff Cooke picked up his second win of the tournament, working all seven innings, allowing one run, on seven hits, while striking out eight and walking just two. 

Jeremy Barber took the loss for Clinton County, who with tonight’s loss, earned the right to sleep in tomorrow and await the winner of Smith and West Seneca for the overall title in the afternoon.

Smith Post 2 Clinton County 1

Box Score

                            1   2   3   4   5   6   7      R    H     E

Clinton County       0   0   0   1   0   0   0      1   7     3

Smith Post 24       0    0   0   0   0   0   2      2    3     3