Ron Moshier - Sports

Friday, May 2, 2008

Clinton commands baseball respect

Think this Clinton Central baseball team isn't for real? Think again.

That 5-3 win at New Hartford on Thursday may have been lost in Friday morning's fine print as just another score, but as far as Clinton head coach Brian Scoones and his Warriors were concerned, this was another big step in the right direction for a Class B program forced to face the Class A likes of Tri Valley League rivals Whitesboro, New Hartford, Vernon-Verona-Sherrill, Oneida and Camden on a regular, home-and-away basis.

"It's as big as you can get, considering it was New Hartford," Scoones said of the upset win over the Spartans, who had entered Thursday's game a perfect 11-0 and ranked No. 3 in New York State's Class A poll. "Now, I think our guys believe we can beat anybody."

And rightly so. Clinton's Warriors, whose pitchers had allowed only four hits in a 5-2 loss to two-time defending TVL East champion Whitesboro in their previous outing, got some more great pitching from starter Justin Corney and reliever Cory Gogola, a game-winning two-run double by Tyler Heck in the top of the seventh inning, and a potential game-saving catch from center fielder Jordan Hobaica in the bottom of the seventh and knocked offNew Hartford for the second straight season.

Corney has three quality starters and three no-decisions, and he leads Clinton with a .500 batting average. Lee Foxton is batting .472 with 24 RBIs, Chris Hughes (.485) and Heck (.440) are batting over .400, and Hobaica
(.385) isn't far behind. The Warriors are 3-3 in the TVL, 6-4 overall, and pitchers Zach Griffiths and Trevor Ford each have two wins.

Clinton didn't field a junior varsity team last year, but the Warriors made some noise in the Section III Class B-2 playoffs. They beat Ilion in the opening round, then lost to top-seeded Hannibal 4-3.

Don't be surprised if they are heard from again in this year's Section III tournament.