David Wright's allegiance to Oneonta only runs so deep.
Virtually untouchable for eight innings Sunday night at Damaschke Field, left-handed pitcher Wright struck out five and walked one in a six-hitter that led the Sherrill Silversmiths to an 8-3 victory over the Oneonta Outlaws in the opening game of a New York Collegiate Baseball League Eastern Division first-round playoff series.
Returning to the field where the Oneonta High product had played high school and Legion baseball games in recent years, Wright threw six 1-2-3 innings and shut out the Eastern Division runner-up for eight innings as the third-seeded Silversmiths took an 8-0 lead into the ninth.
Taylor Jones, Daniel Fickas and Ramon Osuna Sanchez opened the Outlaws' last at-bats with consecutive singles, the last ending Wright's shutout bid. Matt Pelt followed with a one-out, RBI single before Osuna Sanchez capped the scoring on Carson Waln's sacrifice fly to left field.
Wright, who will begin his sophomore year at Oneonta State this fall, then got Tyler Martis to fly out to center to secure his first NYCBL postseason pitching victory.
Wright's performance in front of an announced crowd of 1,462 helped the Silversmiths to a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three playoff series that will continue at 3 p.m. today at Sherrill. Should Oneonta win today to force a tie, the Outlaws (27-20) would host the series finale Tuesday at a time to be determined.
The series winner will advance to a best-of-three Eastern Division championship series against the regular-season champion Geneva Red Wings or the Syracuse Salt Cats, who dropped to the No. 4 seed in the East on Saturday with a 7-6 regular-season finale loss to Sherrill. The Silversmiths and the Salt Cats each finished the regular season at 23-23, but Sherrill earned the higher postseason seed based on a 6-2 advantage in head-to-head games against Syracuse.
The Salt Cats also took a 1-0 advantage in their first-round playoff series Sunday with an 8-5 victory over the Red Wings. Syracuse will host the second game of their series at 7 tonight.
The Silversmiths (24-23) gave Wright, who went 3-4 with a 5.00 earned run average during the regular season, plenty of help Sunday.
Reid Neil doubled off of Oneonta starter J.T. Genovese with two out in the first inning, then scored on a single by Kevin Brice to put Sherrill ahead, 1-0.
Genovese followed with four hitless innings, striking out four and walking one, before Jeremy Roberts took over in the sixth. Roberts lasted two batters as Joseph Romero relieved following a one-out triple by Neil. Romero walked Brice, then gave up RBI singles to Alex Saville and Christian Triplett.
Jaren Drummond pitched a 1-2-3 seventh for the Outlaws but gave up an unearned in the eighth. Sherrill then scored four earned runs in the ninth off of Austin Wallace, who hit Kellen Brown with the bases loaded, gave up a two-run single to Brice and allowed an RBI single to Saville.
Brice finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs for the Silversmiths, who received two hits apiece from Neil and Saville.
Pelt also doubled in the eighth for the Outlaws, who got a one-out single in the second from Frank D'Agostino.