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July 24, 2013

Outlaws clinch regular-season NYCBL crown

The Daily Star

---- — Staff Report

A doubleheader sweep of the Syracuse Salt Cats on Tuesday gave the Oneonta Outlaws the best regular-season record in the New York Collegiate Baseball League and the top seed for the upcoming playoffs.

The Outlaws won the first game, 5-4, and took the second, 6-2, in a pair of seven-inning games at Le Moyne College. Oneonta finished the regular season with a 25-15 record — two games ahead of second-place Hornell in the 11-team league.

“We had the best record in the regular season and we’re looking forward to the playoffs,” said Outlaws manager Joe Hughes, whose team will begin a best-of-3 semifinal series against the Olean Oilers or the Syracuse Junior Chiefs at 7 p.m. Thursday at Damaschke Field.

The fourth-seeded Junior Chiefs (22-18) and the fifth-seeded Oilers (22-18) will play a one-game playoff at 4 p.m. today at Syracuse. Also at 4 p.m. today, the sixth-seeded Salt Cats (21-19) and the third-seeded Wellsville Nitros (22-18) will play a one-game playoff at Wellsville, with the winner facing No. 2 Hornell (23-17) on Thursday in the other best-of-3 semifinal series.

The remainder of the NYCBL playoff schedule has not been announced.

In Monday’s first game, Mitch Hollander’s RBI single in the sixth inning snapped a 4-all tie. Evan Harasta, who went 3-for-3, doubled to start the inning. He was replaced by pinch-runner Spencer Duffie, who advanced to third on a wild pitch before scoring on Hollander’s single.

Oneonta tied the score at 4 in the fourth inning, when Harasta singled, went to second on Howard Joe’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Ryan Tomita’s double.

Three Oneonta pitchers combined on a three-hitter. Starter Mike Calkins, an Oneonta High graduate, allowed four runs on three hits over 41/3 innings. He struck out seven and walked three. Winning pitcher Evan James followed with 12/3 innings of hitless relief, and Brandon Agar threw a scoreless seventh inning to get the save.

Hollander finished 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI.

Hollander also went 3-for-3 with two RBIs in the second game. He led off Oneonta’s three-run third inning with a triple and scored on Joe’s single to tie it at 1. Joe scored the second run of the inning on a balk by losing pitcher Shane Cochran. Duffie, who singled earlier in the inning, scored on a dropped third-strike to give Oneonta a 3-1 lead.

After the Salt Cats scored in the third inning to make it 3-2, the Outlaws plated three runs in the fifth. Josh Treff hit an RBI single and Hollander followed with a two-run double that capped the scoring.

Winning pitcher Matt Milburn (5-1) allowed two runs on six hits over five innings. He struck out one and walked one.

Hughes said starting pitchers such as Milburn, NYCBL Pitcher of the Week Malcolm Purdy and Luke Crumley have keyed his team’s success this season.

“The success of our team and any good team is solid pitching, good defense and timely hitting,” Hughes said. “It starts with starting pitching and I think we have some of the best starting pitching in the league. Hopefully, our good pitching continues in the playoffs.”

Alec Romanowski and Heath Holder each followed with scoreless innings of relief for Oneonta.