Cougars’ O’Neil spices first no-hitter with 18K

Canajoharie junior Dane O’Neil started with strikeout flurry, and ended the same way to complete ano

Canajoharie junior Dane O’Neil started with strikeout flurry, and ended the same way to complete another Western Athletic Conference masterpiece Thursday at Collins Park.

O’Neil struck out a school-record 18 batters as part of his first no-hitter at any level of baseball, and the Cougars had their bats going, as well, in an 8-0 Southern Division victory over Schenectady Christian School.

“We ran into a buzzsaw today. He had command of all his pitches,” Schenectady Christian coach Chad Bowman said of the 16-year-old right-hander. “He really hit the corners. He was pretty much in control in every at-bat.”

O’Neil struck out the first five batters he faced and fanned the

final six in a 107-pitch performance. He struck out the side four times, walked three and allowed only two Falcons to hit the ball out of the infield in his first victory this season.

WAC pitchers from Saratoga Catholic, Duanesburg, Fonda-Fultonville and Fort Plain authored no-hitters last week, while O’Neil’s was the first for Canajoharie since 1997. He threw 66 pitches for strikes and 41 for balls.

“He was on from the first inning,” said Canajoharie coach Brent Watterson. “He had pop on the ball. He had his curve going, and he was trying them in knots with his slider.”

“I lost to Duanesburg my first time out. I didn’t have it all going, but today, I did,” said O’Neil, after fanning Steve Carter to end the no-hitter. “It was a chance to redeem myself against a South [Division] team, which was important, and I was able to pull it off.”

O’Neil also sparked the Canajoharie (3-1, 3-1) offense with a home run, double, single, four runs batted in, three runs scored and a stolen base. Catcher Zach Fleischer had three hits and an RBI, second baseman Payton Stahler had a double, single and scored three times, and shortstop Zach Weaver had a

double, single and an RBI.

“The star of the game was Dane O’Neil,” Bowman said of one of the starters on Canajoharie’s Section II Class C title-winning basketball team. “It was his day.”

“He had the ball game of his life,” said Watterson. “I hope he has another one on Monday.”

Canajoharie has a key matchup with Fonda-Fultonville, one of the WAC North Division powers, Monday.

“I’m supposed to pitch in that game. I was thinking about taking myself out after six because of that game, but a lot of the guys said I should go for it,” O’Neil said. “I thought about it and said, ‘What the heck,’ and I went out and did what I could.”

“I let him make the decision, and I’m sure he’ll be fine. He should be able to give us some innings [Monday] if we need him,” Watterson said. “He’s the most durable pitcher I’ve had in my 13 years here.”

O’Neil ran into minor trouble only once when he walked Carter and Josh Harding with two down in second inning before fanning Mark Garassi looking. He struck out two more in the third, fourth and fifth innings before his big finish. In all, O’Neil got five Falcons looking at strike three.

“I had about 30 pitches in that second inning. Some pitches got away from me,” said O’Neil. “I got my bearings back, and went back to work.”

“He throws a fastball with the seams, and it was moving in on their righties,” Watterson said. “It was coming in hard on their hands.”

O’Neil issued a leadoff walk to Carter in the fifth inning, and, after a pair of strikeouts, got out of the frame when Colin Stewart flied out to center. Matt Gallup flew out to right in the third inning and Schen­ectady Christian teammate Chris McCarty hit a soft liner to short in the fourth.

“When I got out there for the seventh I was thinking, ‘This is it. Don’t mess it up,’ ” O’Neil said. “I was going for a no-hitter, and things went my way.”

Stahler hit a bloop single in the first off Schenectady Christian starter R.J. Gallup, O’Neil followed with an RBI double and scored on Weaver’s single. O’Neil singled in the third and came around on Fleischer’s single, and the junior made it 5-0 in the fifth on his homer over the left field fence, which came after Stahler’s infield single.

“It’s a deadly combination when their pitcher is throwing that well and they’re hitting the ball,” said Bowman, whose team slipped to 2-2 in the WAC and 3-2 overall. “They punished our mistakes.”

Weaver is 12-for-16 on the season with six doubles, a triple and a homer.

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O’Neil and Fleischer; R. Gallup, Compton (5), M. Gallup (7) and Amedore.

Categories: High School Sports

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