Jun 06, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Terrific pitching was a large reason why Westhill’s baseball team won another Section III Class B title. But it was also great pitching that kept the Warriors from a third state championship in four years.
Section IV champion Oneonta, boosted by the efficient mound work of right-hander Ben Moxley, eliminated Westhill 4-1 in Tuesday night’s Class B regional final at Rome’s DeLutis Field.
Since Warriors ace Alex Godzak had thrown a complete game just three days earlier in the sectional Class B final against Cazenovia, the Warriors turned to no. 2 pitcher Ben Walsh to oppose Moxley, who like Godzak had thrown a no-hitter earlier this season.
Walsh could only watch as the Yellow Jackets’ leadoff hitter, David Wright, beat out an infield hit to start the game, and Moxley followed with a four-pitch walk.
A wild pitch moved both runners up, and Chris Pindar, who would go three-for-three on the night, poked a double that scored Wright and Moxley. Following a sacrifice bunt, Zach Pidgeon’s sacrifice fly brought Pindar home.
Just like that, Westhill trailed, 3-0, and the rest of the night was spent in catch-up mode. Head coach Bob Weismore said that Walsh had “junior jitters” and, against a team like Oneonta, any mistake was going to be costly.
The Warriors did get a run in the bottom of the first. Back-to-back singles from J.C. Pena and Joe Meluni led to Walsh’s sacrifice bunt and a groundout from Tyler Thomas that brought Pena home.
When Walsh loaded the bases with one out in the top of the second, Wesimore took him out – and brought in Godzak, on just two days’ rest.
Though Godzak gave up a run-scoring single from Pindar, he quashed the rest of the threat and, over the next five innings, ignored any possible fatigue by shutting out Oneonta, waiting for any sort of offensive help.
It never arrived. Moxley allowed just one hit from the second inning onward, continually throwing strikes and forcing the Warriors’ batters to swing. At his peak efficiency, Moxley retired the side in the bottom of the fourth on just four pitches, and he got near-perfect defense behind him all game long.
So as Oneonta advanced to this Saturday’s state final four in Binghamton, Westhill saw its season end with a 20-5 record. Despite some struggles with run production, the Warriors still managed to nab both OHSL Liberty division and sectional honors.
Godzak heads to Canisius, and other top seniors, like Thomas, Meluni, Will Downs, David Graf and Jacob Nigolian, depart. What helps in 2013 is that standouts like Walsh, Pena, Kevin Karleski, Mike Burton and Jeff Lobello will return.