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Dave Wojeski
Troy Assignment OESJ catcher Payten Johnson hugs pitcher Brad Smith after defeating Fort Ann during their Class D sectional game on Thursday afternoon at Joe Bruno stadium in Troy.

Dave Wojeski
Troy Assignment OESJ pitcher Brad Smith delivers a pitch during their Class D sectional game against Fort Ann on Thursday afternoon at Joe Bruno stadium in Troy.

Dave Wojeski
Troy Assignment OESJ's Dylan Klock rounds third base and scores one of their seven runs during their Class D sectional game against Fort Ann on Thursday afternoon at Joe Bruno stadium in Troy.

Dave Wojeski
Troy Assignment OESJ's Nick D'Antonino watches an inside pitch cross the plate for a ball during their Class D sectional game against Fort Ann on Thursday afternoon at Joe Bruno stadium in Troy.

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Wolves win title in first year of merged OESJ district

Wednesday, June 04, 2014 - Updated: 10:05 AM

By ADAM SHINDER

For the C-S-E

TROY -- A team with a roster of 11 players, not one of them a senior, with the presumptive ace in the pitching rotation left unable to take the mound only a couple weeks into the season. It's not exactly the classic recipe for winning a Section II baseball championship.

Forgive the Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville Wolves for flipping the script a bit.

Brad Smith continued his remarkable season as the Wolves' impromptu ace in the place of Dylan Klock with a complete game three-hitter, and Klock more than made up for his lack of availability on the mound with his third straight four-hit game to fuel an emphatic 7-1 win over defending state champion Fort Ann and earn the Wolves the Section II Class D title in the first year of the merged OESJ school district.

"It's awesome," Smith said. "Our team, we worked so hard for this. We did everything we could. We hit, we fielded, we did everything. We did everything right. That's what we needed to do."

OESJ pounced early, with Devan Battisti ripping a two-out, two-run triple in the top of the first inning to get the Wolves on the board against Fort Ann pitcher Tyler Mattison. From that point, the Wolves never looked back, pounding out 12 hits against three Cardinals pitchers to reach double-digit hits for the sixth time in their last seven games.

And none of it came cheaply. With the exception of Klock's flared single to right to lead off the game -- beating a Fort Ann defense that had shifted three players to the third base side of the infield -- everything the Wolves hit was hard, including five extra-base hits.

"Fort Ann hit us in the wrong spot," Klock said. "We're hitting the ball real well right now."

"That's what we do," Smith added. "We get up early and we stomp on them. We don't let them come back."

Klock, whose arm injury early in the season kept him off the mound, said he slumped a bit at the plate during the regular season, but hit the ball with a vengeance in the sectional playoffs. Over the Wolves' three wins, Klock collected 12 hits -- seven of them doubles.

"They feed off each other," OESJ coach Darin Lynch said. "When Dylan Klock starts hitting, the whole team starts hitting."

With the Wolves clicking nicely at the plate -- they added another run in the second and two more in the third to chase Mattison after 2 1/3 innings -- it fell to Smith to do what he's done since assuming the No. 1 spot at midseason and usher OESJ to victory.

No problem.

Smith didn't allow a hit until a Cameron Stark single in the fourth inning, struck out six and walked six to pick up his program-record ninth win of the season in pitching OESJ to its first Section II title since St. Johnsville's Class D championship in 1987.

"Brad stepped up," Klock said. "If it wasn't for him, we wouldn't be where we are."

Smith ran into trouble just once when Fort Ann put together a two-out rally to plate its lone run on a bases-loaded walk to Stark in the sixth, but Tyler Mayton's sliding catch on a Seth Godfrey line drive to right ended the threat and let the Wolves breathe a little easier.

After that little bit of stress, the seventh inning came simpler with a two-out walk to Nick Lehoisky proving the only speed bump before Smith blew an 0-2 fastball past Mattison on his 123rd and final pitch of the afternoon to set off the OESJ celebration.

"It's a team of sophomores and juniors, so to come out here and win this today means a lot," Lynch said. "It means a lot to these kids. We were the number three seed, and nobody thought that we could do this. It means a lot for these kids to go out and do what they did today."

In addition to Klock's 4-for-5 day, Battisti went 2-for-4 with a double and a triple, Nick D'Antonino went 2-for-3, Nate Trumble had a two-run single and Smith contributed an RBI single as the Wolves advanced to the state Class D regional semifinals, where they'll face the Section X champion June 6 at Shuttleworth Park.

"I feel like we really deserve it," Smith said. "We worked so hard. I think we've got a good chance here. We're a pretty good team. It'll be good competition, but I feel like we've got a good chance."

Wednesday, Lynch gave his team a little extra motivation by showing them YouTube videos of Fort Ann's 2013 sectional title win. Thursday, the Wolves created a few memories of their own.

"I wanted the kids to see what it looks like to win a sectional championship," Lynch said. "I think they wanted it for themselves, and they went and did it."

Dave Wojeski - Troy Assignment OESJ players hold up the championship trophy after winning the Class D sectional game against Fort Ann on Thursday afternoon at Joe Bruno stadium in Troy.

Photo submitted - The St. Johnsville Vol. Fire Dept. honored the team with water works upon their return.

     

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