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May 31, 2011

 

Trojans ousted after slow start

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

WHITESBORO — You could sense that Homer Central was a little off at the start of Saturday’s Section 3 Class A baseball tournament semifinal game at Whitesboro.
Maybe that was due to playing back-to-back games, as the third-seed Trojans were coming off a 5-2 quarterfinal win Friday after stormy weather delayed their Thursday quarterfinal round match-up against Chittenango. Meanwhile, the second-seeded Warriors were winners Thursday and actually got the chance to scout the Trojans’ in that Friday contest.
In any case, Homer came out flat against the defending sectional champions and were in an early 6-0 hole before the offense finally kicked in. That rally fell short, however, and the Trojans fell 7-5 to the Warriors to end up the season at 14-5.
“We showed a lot of class fighting back the way we did after being so flat in the beginning of the game,” Homer coach Robert Nasiatka said. “Finishing up the night before and traveling early the next day might have accounted for some of the lag. Our pitchers did a great job on what seemed to be a very tight strike zone, but the zone was tight both ways. Whitesboro just adjusted to it better or were used to it.
“Whitesboro is a great program,” he continued. “There is a reason why they are in the finals on a yearly basis. The walks hurt us. They did not hit the ball that hard, they were just timely in their hits.”
Homer walked a dozen Warriors in the loss, the winners making the most of seven hits.
“I knew that could be a problem,” senior slugger Zephan Kash said of having to come right back following Friday’s victory. “I told the guys we needed to come out strong with the bats. As we have done all season, we really didn’t start hitting until the late innings. We tried to do it the hard way.”
Homer starter Payten Boice struggled. The sophomore alternated walks and strikeouts for the first four Warrior batters. Add in a wild pitch and error and Whitesboro (18-3 overall) took a 1-0 lead.
The bottom of the second inning was no better as a walk, sacrifice bunt and walk sent Boice to shortstop and Zach Blanden to the mound.
THE WARRIORS STARTED through the batting order a second time with Adam Pexton (2-for-2) rolling a single into centerfield for a 2-0 lead. Another walk loaded the bases and led to a sacrifice fly by Brendan Heitz that scored a third run. Pexton went to third on the throw home, but Blanden pitched out of further trouble.
Blanden lasted into the fifth inning, but four more walks over that span and five hits allowed the Warriors to build a 6-0 cushion. Brent Quinlan pitched the final one and two-third innings, issuing three more walks which led to a sixth-inning run.
While the Homer pitchers struggled, Whitesboro starter Ryan Watson allowed just two hits over the first five innings and walked two batters. In the top of the sixth, the bottom fell out for him.
Ethan Forster led off with a single and Blanden (2-for-4) followed with a single as well. The Warriors brought left-hander Matt Engler in to face Homer’s power-hitting lefty batter. Engler walked Kash to load the bases. Andy Parker stepped to the plate and got his only hit of the game. The senior singled up the middle to score pinch runner Thomas Austin and Blanden and cut the Whitesboro lead to 6-2.
Kash went to third on the play and the centerfielder missed picking up the ball on the first try. Mike Bunal tried to throw Blanden out and the play was close. The catcher began arguing the safe call and Parker scooted into second base. Boice hit a sacrifice fly to score Kash from third and Mike Hartnett, who entered the game in the bottom of the fifth inning singled home Parker as the Trojans crept to within 6-4.
After the Warriors got their run in the bottom of the sixth, Homer mounted one last rally. Blanden legged out a slow roller to the right of first baseman Watson and Kash (2-for-2) doubled to the left field fence to score Blanden and trim the deficit to 7-5. Kash moved to third on a passed ball, but Engler sealed the victory with a strikeout.
THERE WAS SOME history made as the Trojans closed out the 2011 season.
With two hits, Blanden finished his career with a school-record 100 hits and 82 runs scored. The senior also hit .500 for the season.
Kash tied John Hall’s record with a 19-game hitting streak which Hall set in 1986. He also became the first Trojan to hit over .600 for a single season (.617) with a minimum of 25 at-bats and the senior is the first Trojan to hit .500 in his career (.504). Kash also tied the single-season RBI record of 32. He shares that honor with Anthony Brevetti (2008). Kash’s new career home run record will stand at 19.
“I’m very impressed by that,” said Kash of the 19-game hitting record. “I had no idea I was up for that. I just went out there and played hard every game. I just left everything out on the field.”
On Friday, Tyler Simonetta won his seventh game of the season and officially becomes the only Trojan pitcher to finish 7-0 for a single season. Steve Rainbow (9-2, 1982) and Gary Loudon (8-1, 1994) won more games in a season while Rainbow (1981) and Jason Root (1990) each went 7-2. David Dix (1987), Eric Goodrich (1994) and Pat Gerrard (1995) were each 6-0.
Seniors Blanden, Forster, Kash, Parker, Simonetta and Nate Parker are part of a Trojan team that scored 177 runs, got 209 hits and hit .355 for the season while allowing just 104 runs scored and .236 opponents’ batting average.
“I wish it ended differently,” said Nasiatka. “This was a special team and a special bunch of seniors. We are making progress as a program. We lose a lot losing this group, but it’s funny, the staff is already looking at scenarios for next year. We still have a lot of experienced players coming back.
“I would like to thank this group for making the year so special,” he added “Sometimes we just willed our way to wins when most teams would have been packing it in. I hope that drive carries on to next year. Zach, Andy, Zephan, Nate, Tyler and Ethan can be proud of their accomplishments. I am looking forward to seeing what they do in the future. The program wishes them the best in all they do on the field and in the classroom.”

 

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