AFTON – Unadilla Valley was one pitch away from another clean inning. A walk to Unatego’s number nine hitter, a missed pick-off attempt, and two errors led to the Spartans’ three-run rally in the third and a 6-2 victory in the Midstate Athletic Conference baseball championship game at Afton High School Thursday afternoon.
Dan Shelton logged seven innings for the Spartans to earn the victory, one in which he was nicked for single runs in the first and last innings.
“Unatego is just solid all the way up the middle, and they had a good bounce in their step out there,” said UV coach Gary Alford. “They’re a good team to watch.”
UV senior pitcher Brett Smith allowed just one baserunner through the first 2 2-3 innings, and that lone baserunner, Phil Youngs, was cut down on a double play. Unatego’s number nine hitter, Tyler Butler, managed to work a walk out of a three-two count with two outs in the third to begin the unlikely rally.
But Butler’s presence on the basepaths nearly resulted in the same fate as Youngs. Butler’s mindset was clearly to steal second. Smith recognized the baserunning threat, and threw over to first baseman Kurt Haycook catching Butler between first and second base. Haycook ran toward second base and delivered a throw to Brandon Miles at the second-base bag. The hustling Butler, though, narrowly beat the tag.
From there, Youngs hit an RBI single up the middle. The throw to home base in an ill-fated attempt to catch Butler allowed Youngs to move to second, and Youngs took yet another base when another off-line UV throw bounced into center field. Kellen Komenda’s RBI single gave Unatego the lead for good, and Komenda made his way all the way around to home plate after back-to-back throwing errors by UV.