When Greenwich lost the 2005 Section II overall Class C baseball championship game at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, then-seventh-grader Neil Fryer was in the stands to see the disappointment of coming so close.
Since that night, he has wanted to lead the Witches to a win in the park. Tuesday, his five years of work since that night paid off, as he led the Witches past Fort Plain, 9-1, to the Class C title and a place in the Class CC-C championship game on Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Geyser Park against Class CC champion Canajoharie. The Cougars won their first sectional championship, beating Chatham, 7-0, behind a one-hitter thrown by Dane O’Neil.
Fryer threw a complete game, allowing one run on three hits. At the plate, he was 3-for-4 with a two-run home run and three RBI. He topped 100 pitches in the sixth inning, but said there was no way he was coming out for the seventh.
“I wanted to go the distance,” Fryer said. “For three years, I’ve wanted to get here. I came here when I was in seventh grade, when our varsity team lost. Ever since then, I wanted to come here and get a ‘W’. This feels amazing, to do it in my senior year, my last possible shot, and to upset Fort Plain, who’s a great team.”
The fourth-seeded Witches (18-5) also got a two-run homer and a triple from Chad Niles.
Fort Plain, the No. 2 seed, had won the previous four titles and five of the last six.
The Hilletoppers’ best scoring opportunities came in the first three innings against Fryer, who struck out nine and walked four. All four walks, along with three Greenwich fielding errors, came in the first three innings. Fort Plain stranded seven runners in that time, and was a meager 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
“I was shaky at the beginning,” Fryer said. “I didn’t have a good feel for it. I was kind of up in the zone. I think I was a little amped up and my adrenaline was pumping, so I tried to settle down. After having the lead, it’s a lot easier to pitch.”
Tyler Barhydt had two of the Hilltoppers’ three hits, and scored their lone run when he was plated by Mark Hanifin’s triple in the fifth.
The Hilltoppers left the bases loaded in the first inning and, in the second, flubbed a fake squeeze meant to advance a runner from first to second.
Fort Plain coach Craig Phillips said the Hilltoppers were overachievers this season, finishing at 18-4.
“We kind of have managed with mirrors all year,” he said. “We weren’t a very good team, but to win 18 games, I’m very proud of the kids. They worked very hard. It was a hell of a season. Hopefully, the kids will continue to work hard. If not, it might be the last time in a long time we get to Joe Bruno.”
Phillips is retiring from teaching, and is uncertain of his return to the dugout next spring.
Chatham errors and strikeouts tipped the balance in Canajoharie’s favor on both sides of the plate.
O’Neil struck out 14 for the Cougars, walking five and hitting one batter. He had a no-hitter going through 51⁄3 innings. It was broken up by Nick Shaw’s creeping grounder to second for an infield single.
“My fastball, in the first two or three innings, was high. Once I got that grooving, in that last inning, I gave it everything I had,” O’Neil said. “It was just straight fastballs. I didn’t want to mess around. I chucked it as hard as I could, especially at those last batters. That was the hardest I’ve ever thrown.”
Anthony Taylor led 16-7 Canajoharie with three singles and an RBI.
Four of the third-seeded Cougars’ first five runs were unearned, including all three in the third inning. No. 5 Chatham (14-9) committed an error in each of the first four innings.
“They made some costly errors and we capitalized on them,” O’Neil said. “That’s what we hadn’t done a few weeks ago. We didn’t capitalize at all on their errors, but this week we have.”
GREENWICH 9, FORT PLAIN 1
Greenwich 012 211 2 — 9 8 3
Fort Plain 000 010 0 — 1 3 3
Fryer and Giroux; Weaver, Barhydt (4), Baker (7) and Ray, Reese (6).
CANAJOHARIE 7, CHATHAM 0
Chatham 000 000 0 — 0 1 6
Canajoharie 203 101 x — 7 7 0
Young and Niles; O’Neil and Fleischer.
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Categories: High School Sports