With great patience, the Oneida and Vernon Verona Sherrill baseball teams both had to wait until April 12 to start a new season. They had both practiced plenty outdoors, sometimes in heat that approached 90 degrees, and had a fair amount of scrimmages -- but no games that counted.
All that changed on Tuesday, when the Indians and Red Devils got underway, both of them finding immediate success.
In Oneida's case, that meant surprising long-time Tri-Valley League power Whitesboro 6-5, a feat made more remarkable by the fact that seven players were making their varsity debuts.
Heading to Whitesboro, the Indians immediately went in front, scoring twice in both of the first two innings to seize a 4-0 lead before the Warriors could get on the board.
That margin grew to 6-1 in the fourth as, by this point, Nate Mallinder had three hits and two RBIs and Bryan Sheridan added two hits of his own.
Whitesboro used three runs in the bottom of the fourth to cut the margin to 6-4, then got a run in the sixth and had the tying and winning runs on base in the seventh before relief pitcher Jeremy Rodriguez earned the final out. Mallinder started and got the win, with Ryan Shene seeing a relief stint.
VVS, meanwhile, opened against New Hartford and was superb from the start in an 11-2 romp over the Spartans.
Already ahead 2-0 going into the second inning, the Red Devils pulled away from New Hartford with five runs in that frame as Tyler Mautner smashed a three-run home run and Mitch Iseneker added a solo shot.
That was all pitchers Jason Dalton and Travis Eaton needed. Dalton went four innings and got the win as Eaton threw the final three frames. Combined, they surrendered just three hits. VVS, by contrast, had 14 hits, including those two round-trippers and doubles by Iseneker, Steve Davis, Jesse Whitmeyer, Collin Laguzza and Anthony Rocco.