Ben Payton picked the perfect time to say goodbye Thursday.
Payton lined a three-run homer over the Oneonta High scoreboard in left field with two out in the bottom of the seventh inning, leading Oneonta Post 259 to a 4-2 Legion baseball victory over visiting Binghamton Post 1645.
“It was a no-doubter,” Green Wave coach Mike Jester said of Payton’s walkoff shot, which capped a four-run seventh inning. “As soon as it was hit, I knew it was out.”
Losing pitcher Trevor Morreal scattered five hits over six scoreless innings and got the first out of the seventh before walking Zach King. Oneonta went on to load the bases as David Wright lined a single to right field and Zach Pidgeon blooped a single into left field to set up Peter Brunetta, who drove in King with a grounder to the hole between shortstop and third base. Wright was forced out at third on Brunetta’s fielder’s choice, which pulled the Green Wave to 2-1.
No. 6 hitter Payton then ended it with his first homer of the season and his second in three Legion seasons.
“We’ve been waiting for him to break out and he did tonight,” Jester said of Payton, a Broome Community College player who helped Oneonta High win the Class B state championship in 2012. “Ben is probably as good a hitter as we’ve got on our team.”
Payton finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a stolen base for the Green Wave (15-12), who received two hits from Pidgeon. Payton’s homer made a winner out of Oneonta starting pitcher Wright (3-1), whose three-hitter included nine strikeouts and one walk.
“They scored in the fourth on a two-out single, a wild pitch and an RBI single ... and they scored in the fifth when their No. 9 hitter, Sean Lustig, lined a single into right field for an RBI,” Jester said. “Wright retired the side in order in every other inning.”
The victory helped the Green Wave clinch a berth in the District Six Tournament, which starts July 20. Oneonta is the defending champion for the District Six Tournament, which features two four-team divisions. Jester said he expected the tournament schedule to be set by next Thursday.
Oneonta will host the 6th Ward Athletic Club’s Green Wave Wood Bat Classic today through Sunday. The Classic starts with three games at 5:15 p.m. today as Schenectady will play Bradford, Pa., at Damaschke Field; Sidney Post 183 will face Brockville, Ontario, at Oneonta High; and Corning will meet Cranston, R.I., at Field 6 in Neahwa Park.
Today’s first round closes with an 8 p.m. game at Damaschke Field between Post 259 and the Montreal Titans. Damaschke Field also will host the semifinals at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Sunday, as well as the championship game at 3 p.m. Sunday.
Oneonta 4, Binghamton 2
at Oneonta High
Bing. 000 110 0 - 2 3 1
Oneonta 000 000 4 - 4 8 0
Trevor Morreall (L) and Danny Walsh. David Wright (W,3-1) and Peter Brunetta. HR: Ben Payton (O).