ONEONTA – If pitching and defense are the keys to a successful season, it appears Oneonta High’s baseball team should be in good shape this spring.
Left-hander Brock Eichler and right-hander Matt Bitzer combined on a four-hitter and Oneonta’s defense made one error en route to a 3-0 Southern Tier Athletic Conference victory over Johnson City on a breezy and overcast Thursday in the season-opener for both teams.
“That’s the name of the game, right?” OHS coach Joe Hughes said of his team’s pitching and defense. “Brock Eichler pitched a very good game and Matt Bitzer came in and kept them off balance. We made some good plays. Our infield made good plays and it’s nice to end on a double play. It’s a good formula.”
Eichler was one of six sophomores who saw extensive playing time last season as the Yellowjackets went 14-7 and advanced to the Section Four Class B final, falling, 6-4, to Waverly.
“The year we were sophomores definitely helped,” Eichler said of the cast of current juniors comprised of Collin Neer, Conor Tavarone, Josh Garufi, Noah Sheehan and Bitzer. “We worked hard in the offseason to get better. Hopefully, that will help us for this year and next year.”
Hughes said he’s noticed a difference this season.
“It’s first time we had pre-game infield, outfield and we didn’t have to say much,” Hughes said. “They kind of knew what they were supposed to do, they knew the routine. They’ve been here and done it. I think they’re poised, and their confidence maturity showed today. I hope that continues.”
Early on, it looked as if might be a long day for Eichler. JC’s Colin Arvanitakis led off the first inning a sharp single to left. Eichler then walked Joe Hamden.