May 30, 2009


Early ouster for Purple Lions


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Pat Perkins of Dryden dives back into first base safely on a pick off attempt against Chenango Valley during Friday’s Section 4 Class B tournament game. IAC champion Dryden was upended, losing 11-2 at home.

Staff Writer

DRYDEN — It was a day where very little went right for the Dryden High baseball team.
Maybe it was the eight-day layoff since the Purple Lions’ 13th straight win, a big Interscholastic Athletic Conference championship game victory over Newfield back on May 21, that made the home team look flat in Friday’s Section 4 Class B tournament opener.
Maybe it was a dominant performance on the mound and at the plate by Chenango Valley’s Justin Topa, too, and the speed of his Warrior teammates. Whatever the case, fifth-seed Chenango Valley was in charge and rolled to an 11-2 quarterfinal round victory over the Purple Lions on their Dryden Elementary School diamond.
The loss ended the fourth-seeded Purple Lions season at 17-5. The Warriors out of the Southern Tier Athletic Conference improve to 11-7.
Topa pitched five innings and allowed just one run on three hits with eight strikeouts and three walks before Taylor Howard worked the final two innings. At bat, Topa helped his own cause by going 3-for-5 with two doubles, four runs scored and a stolen base.
“We did come out a little flat,” said Dryden junior Pat Perkins. “We never really keyed in on his (Topa) stuff. We got guys in position, but just left too many on base. We just struggled hitting the ball.”
“There were two keys to our win today,” said Chenango Valley coach Tom Ryder. “We played very good defense. We did not make any errors and we did capitalize on their mistakes. Dryden is a very good team, but they made some mistakes and we took advantage of them.
“Justin Topa is a very solid player,” Ryder continued. “He doesn’t get flustered easily. That is what we expect from him and he has delivered all season long.”
“I told the guys that there are two things that win sectional games,” said Dryden coach Kim Brown. “You need to be clean defensively and you have to pitch well. Matt (Colbert) did not throw bad. We did not pick the ball well in the field.
“Chenango Valley has big, strong, athletic kids,” Brown added. “They get down the base paths quickly. Topa is a great pitcher. He fastball is hard and he has a good curve. The thing that makes him most effective is that his arm slot and arm motion never changes. Hats off to him because he did pitch a great game. He is a wonderful thrower.”
Colbert went the distance, scattering nine hits and striking out 11 Warriors. The senior left-hander did walk two, hit two batters and tossed two wild pitches and the speed of the Warriors put too much pressure a defense that committed six errors.
AN OMEN OF things to come came with Topa stepping to the plate in the top of the first inning. With the one, he lifted a high flyball to the fence in left-centerfield, Pat Finnerty had trouble as he headed up the little slope before the fence and the ball dropped for a double.
Brian Stinson (2-for-4) followed with a grounder to shortstop. Topa hesitated coming to third base, which also made Colby Gee pause for a moment before making the throw to first. Gee thought he may have a shot to get Topa at third, but opted to go for the out at first. That slight hesitation allowed Stinson and Topa to reach their destinations safely.
Stinson stole second. As catcher Wayne Dougherty’s throw was en route, Topa broke for home. Gee caught off the throw in front of the base, but his return throw to Dougherty was a split-second late and Chenango Valley led 1-0.
A one-out single by Perkins and two-out walk issued to Colbert gave the Purple Lions two scoring opportunities in the bottom of the inning, shortstop Conner Mahoney grabbed Dougherty’s line drive to end the inning.
The Warriors picked up a run in the second inning when Matt Meddleton led off with a home run over the left field fence for a 2-0 advantage, but Dryden answered on a solo blast to left-centerfield by Devin Cross for the Purple Lions to close the gap to 2-1.
Topa would dodge a bullet in the bottom of the third. Perkins singled and Gee drew a walk, but the senior struck out the next three batters. The only other person to reach base off Topa was a walk to Dan Holland in the fourth.
Meanwhile, Topa continued to raise havoc at the plate. He led off the top of the third inning with his second double of the game. Topa moved to third on another infield single by Stinson and scored on a sacrifice fly by Cameron Moochler.
The Warriors pulled away in the fourth. With one out, Jordon Oakley was hit by a Colbert pitch. He was out at second on a fielder’s choice when Colbert gloved Donnie Fry’s shot back to the mound. Colbert knocked the hard shot down and made the play for the second out. Then the wheels came off. Topa legged out an infield single to short and Stinson was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Howard singled home two runners with a ball to centerfield. Stinson then scored on a wild pitch as Howard advanced to second.
After Kyle Christoffersen walked, the Warriors pulled off another double-steal which allowed Howard to score for a 7-1 cushion. Chenango Valley took advantage of four Dryden errors in the sixth inning to increase the margin to 11-1.
THE PURPLE LIONS did score once in the bottom of the seventh inning. Holland and Cory Goodenough drew back-to-back walks off Howard to start the inning. After two strikeouts, Colbert ripped a single up the middle to score Holland. Dougherty walked to load the bases, but Cross hit a little dribbler in front of home plate. Warrior catcher Stinson grabbed the ball, spun around and stepped on home plate for the force out to end the game.
The stinging loss concluded an outstanding season for Dryden and senior ballplayers Colbert, Goodenough, Cross, Wayne Dougherty, Pat Finnerty and C.J. Vanderbilt.
“After we went through the line at the end if the game, I told the guys that 17 wins is a great season,” said Brown in reflection. “We had a very good team that won 13 straight games. That kind of streak shows just how well these guys are capable of playing. I told the seniors that it was a very good, productive season for Dryden.”