By DAVE SHEA
CANTON - For the first four innings of Friday’s Class B regional game between OFA and Saranac Central at St. Lawrence University’s Tom Fay Field, walks and wild pitches played a major role in the scoring.
But in the bottom of the fourth inning, after the visiting Chiefs of Section 7 scored four times to tie the score, it was all OFA’s hitting.
The Devils (11-5) struck for five straight hits, scored four runs and then received last out relief work from Kinnon LaRose to save an 8-5 victory for Seth Pinkerton.
A victory which earned the 11-5 Devils the right to host fifth ranked Section 2 Champion Schalmont (23-1) for the right to advance to the New York State Final Four for a second straight year.
“We are playing really well as a team and we are hitting the ball well up and down the lineup,” said OFA senior catcher Jon Tayler who beat out an RBI infield single in the second inning and crushed a two-run double to cap the four-run fourth.
“DaKota Brady is an outstanding leader and we have a lot of young guys hitting the ball very well.”
Three first-year varsity starters started the pivotal fourth inning surge against Nate Stanton who replaced starter Tanner Roscoe. Jon Rogers singled, Nick Sweeney delivered a pinch-hit RBI single and Peyton Lalone who scored three times, lined an RBI single before Brady singled and Tayler hammered a two-run double over the leftfielders head.
The Devils answered after the Chiefs used their second hit of the game, two-run opposite field single by Caleb Keysor, to trigger a four-run inning where Pinkerton issued four walks.
Pinkerton faced only four batters blanking the Chiefs in the fifth and sixth innings but issued three straight walks after two outs in the seventh.
LaRose came on and enticed a game-ending flyout after Keysor plated a run with an infield single.
“Seth (Pinkerton) wanted to finish the game but he had thrown 136 pitches. He was tired and his mechanics were breaking down. And really, it was good for Kinnon LaRose to pitch a little to a get a feel for the mound because he will pitch against Schalmont tomorrow,” said OFA Coach Tom Pinkerton.
“Once again our hitters did a great job going the other way with the pitch and DaKota Brady and Jon Tayler are just consistently hitting the ball well. I was very happy for Nick Sweeney who got a big pinch-hit single.”
Pinkerton climbed to 5-0 on the season with his second straight postseason win where he allowed just two hits and struck out eight as a buffer to 11 walks.
“OFA got the clutch hits today and we didn’t. We had a lot of chances but Pinkerton just seemed to find another gear for key strikeouts,” said Saranac Central Coach Frank Trudeau.
“Once again we battled all the way and Ethan Goslin got a pretty good piece of the ball on the last out of the game.”
The combination of Brady and Tayler got good pieces of the ball throughout the game where the both connected for two singles and a double. Brady singled and scored on a sacrifice fly by LaRose in the first inning and doubled home Lalonde in the fourth.
“I was trying to lay off the curveballs and look for fastball to hit,” said Brady.
“That is the way I have been hitting all year.”
Rogers also scored in the second inning and Jordan Miller singled in the third. Saranac’s only other hit was a bunt single by Goslin in the third inning.
“We made some mental mistakes today but we didn’t let it carry out to the field where we didn’t have an error,” said Coach Pinkerton.
“When we play Schalmont tomorrow we can’t have mental mistakes.”