ONEONTA — Earlier this week, Oneonta High baseball coach Joe Hughes said he didn’t have any pitchers who would strike out 10-15 batters a game.
The Yellowjackets’ opener on a windy Friday afternoon proved Hughes knew what he was talking about, sort of.
No OHS pitchers hit double-digits in strikeouts, but sophomores Noah Sheehan and Brock Eichler, junior Kevin Smith, and seniors Mason Montgomery and Chris Pindar combined for 13 in the Yellowjackets’ 5-0 non-league victory over Cobleskill.
“The young guys definitely stepped up,” said third-year varsity player Pindar, who reached base four times and scored twice. “They showed they can play at the bigger level today.”
It marked the 17th straight victory for OHS, which capped its 24-2 state-championship run a season ago with 16 wins in a row.
Pindar is the lone returning starter on a 16-man roster that includes six sophomores.
“It was very encouraging,” Hughes said of the efforts of Sheehan and Eichler on the mound, and some quality defensive work by fellow sophomore Josh Garufi at shortstop. “It’s their first varsity experience and only our third time on the field. They were a little anxious and a little nervous, but they were solid.”
Oneonta’s five pitchers combined on a two-hitter. Perhaps more impressive was that on a blustery day, the Yellowjackets allowed three walks.
Sheehan worked around a one-out single by Josh Tusang in a scoreless first inning that included two strikeouts.
Lefty Eichler then struck out the side in the second, all looking. Brad Koeberle and Zach Veley looked at third-strike curveballs, and David Himme watched a fastball go by for strike three. Eichler struck out two more in the third and wound up with his first varsity victory.
Smith didn’t allow a hit and struck out three over the next two innings.