April 14, 2009


Trojans trim CHS in diamond battle


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Homer Central shortstop Zack Blanden tries to turn a double play over sliding Cortland High baserunner Ryann Hubbard at SUNY Cortland’s Wallace Field. Blanden had three hits in Homer’s 5-3 victory.

Staff Writer

It may have been an early season non-league game, but it was another classic battle as Cortland High hosted Homer Central in a Monday midday baseball contest.
It came right down to having the winning run at the plate, but the Trojans held on for a 5-3 victory over the Purple Tigers at SUNY Cortland’s Wallace Field. While it was the first game for Homer, Cortland falls to 0-2 in the early campaign.
“I can’t say enough about the seniors that stepped up today,” said Homer coach Robert Nasiatka. “Even our sophomore (Zach Blanden) stepped up with a nice day. All around, I could not be happier with the way our season has started. It was a nice way to start the season.
“We do have some areas to work on,” he continued. “But, we don’t really have any time this week with seven games. Danny Miller gave us five great innings, but the tank was empty and it was time for him to come out. Brandon Simonetta was shaky but you know Brandon is going to throw strikes when he comes in.”
“It is still early in the season and there were some self-inflicted wounds,” said Cortland coach John Tobin. “Most of the runs we gave up today were of our own doing, but that’s what the early season is all about.
“It’s always fun to play Homer,” Tobin continued. “It was nice that Cortland State allowed us to come here. All the kids enjoyed it. We’ll now get into league play and go from there.”
“John has a nice team with some good arms,” Nasiatka added. “They should do well in their league this year.”
One run Cortland had no real control of was in the top of the first inning. Trojan lead-off batter Brandon Simonetta blasted the second pitch of the game from Purple Tiger starter Brandon Watkins over the left-centerfield fence. The 370-foot blast was just to the left of the scoreboard and gave Homer a quick 1-0 lead.
“I just try to make the same swing every time,” said Simonetta. “It was a little high, but it was a perfect pitch to take out of the ballpark. There was a little wind. Everything was just right. It was a good way to start the season.”
The inning wasn’t over as sophomore Blanden singled down the left field line. Blanden was 3-for-4 on the day with three runs scored. He stole second base to move into scoring position. With one out, Brandon L’Hommedieu reached first base on an error as Bladen raced to third. Zach Randolph grounded into a fielder’s choice as Blanden dashed home for a 2-0 Trojan advantage.
“It feels good to come out on the first day and do well,” said Blanden. “I’ve been waiting all year for this first game, it’s nice to finally be able to play. I really have been playing with all the guys on both teams since Little League. I saw the ball well at the plate and hit it.”
UNDAUNTED, CORTLAND came right back with two runs in the botton of the inning. Tony Whitt drew a one-out walk. On a perfectly executed hit-and-run, Whitt broke for second and Ryann Hubbard belted a single into the vacated hole between first and second to put runners on the corners. Hubbard then stole second before Ian Spafford singled down the right field line to plated both runners and knot the score at 2-2. Spafford had a nice 3-for-4 day at the plate with three RBI.
Both Miller and Watkins had a quieter second inning, but Homer took a 3-2 lead in the top of the third. Blanden led off with a single.He stole second, but the ball rolled away and he continued on the third base. Eric Rosato drew a walk and stole second. With two outs, Alex Duell drew a walk. All three runenrs advanced on a passed ball. Blanden raced across home plate while Rosato went to third and Duell to second, Watkins got a pop-fly in the infield to end the inning.
Cortland broke through in the bottom of the fifth inning. With one out, Whitt drew his second walk of the game and that was it for Miller, who finished the day with six strikeouts, three hits allowed, three walks and no decision. Whitt moved to second on a wild pitch by Simonetta. Hubbard flied out to right field, but Whitt was still able to tag-up and advance to third base. Spafford singled to right field to score Whitt with the tying run.
“The first inning was hardest for me,” Miller explained. “My hand was really cold and I had trouble getting a good feel with my fingers on the ball. Once my hand warmed up, things came around and I started throwing more strikes. It was nice to finally get the season started and it is always nice to start the season with a win.”
Homer plated a run in the top of the sixth inning to take a 4-3 lead off relief pitcher Justin Burns. Watkins also got no decision after five innings after allowing one earned run, four hits and two walks to go with six strikeouts. The Trojan run came without a single hit. Ricky Newman drew a two-out walk. Newman advanced two bases on a passed ball. After Jack Kissel walked, another passed ball allowed Newman to score the run as Kissel advanced to second base. He tried to take third base on the same play, but was thrown out.
THE TROJANS ADDED a big insurance run off Hubbard, who came on to pitch for Cortland. With one out, Blanden doubled to the fence in left field. Rosato followed with a single up the middle. Blanden scored as Homer enjoyed a 5-3 advantage. Hubbard got out of the inning wit no further damage.
Cortland made things interesting in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Hubbard singled. Spafford reached first on a fielder’s choice when Hubbard was thrown out at second on a ground ball. Burns was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second, but Watkins hit a fly ball down the right field line that L’Hommedieu tracked down for the final out.
Homer will return to action today with the first day of the John Baden Tournament. The Trojans played LaFayette at 10 a.m. and will face Fulton to this afternoon at 4 p.m. Fulton and LaFayette meet in the 1 p.m. game. There are also three games in Tully as part of the tournament as the Black Knights host Onondaga and Skaneateles. Onondaga and Tully played at 10 with Onondaga and Skaneateles meeting at 1 p.m. Tully meets Skaneateles at 4 p.m. The final day of the Baden Tournament is Wednesday with games all at Homer High School. Game times are 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Those match-ups will be determined by today’s results.
Cortland will begin OHSL Freedom Division play at Jamesville-DeWitt Wednesday. Game time is 11 a.m.