Ninth inning walk-off ends Oneonta's season in Regional final (2024)

The future of Oneonta baseball is bright, but that will be small comfort to the Yellowjackets after their season came to an end in heartbreaking fashion on Saturday.

Oneonta fell to Little Falls 3-2 in nine innings in the Class B Regional final at Onondaga Community College as Donovan Busch’s walk-off two-out single sent the Mounties to the State Final Four.

It was a crushing end to one of the best seasons in program history: a Section IV title, a 21-2 record and countless memorable moments.

“We accomplished a lot,” OHS coach Joe Hughes said. “We had a great run. Good pitching beat good hitting today. We didn’t square the ball up very well. We didn’t hit the ball very well at all. Give credit to them for mixing speeds and keeping us off-balance and away from the big part of the bat. Sorry to see it end for our guys.”

Nolan Stark was excellent in eight-plus innings on the mound for Oneonta, finishing with 11 strikeouts and allowing just two walks and three hits.

“I thought it was a really strong outing,” Hughes said of the sophom*ore right-hander. “He did everything he was supposed to do. Pitchers are supposed to keep their team in the game and he did. He gave us a chance.”

Neither team was able to crack the scoreboard in the first three innings. Oneonta loaded the bases in the top of the third, but in what would become a theme of the game, was unable to drive anyone in as Little Falls starter Wyatt Beadle worked out of the first of several jams.

The Mounties drew first blood in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single by Derek Milianta but did no further damage after Stark was able to strand runners on second and third.

Oneonta tied things up in the following frame on a sacrifice fly by Jameson Brown that plated Matt Rigas. The Yellowjackets eventually had runners on first and second with two outs but Beadle induced a harmless pop-up.

OHS took the lead in the top of the sixth when a Little Falls error on a long fly ball off the bat of Rigas allowed Maddox Imperato to come around and score after his leadoff single.

But Little Falls answered right back in an eventful bottom of the sixth. After Braden McCumber led off the frame with a double and Giovonni Almaviva worked a walk, the Mounties had men on first and third with nobody out.

Stark prevented the tying run from scoring when he fielded a ground ball and made a heads-up play to throw out the runner at third.

But after Almaviva advanced to third on a fielder’s choice, he proceeded to score the tying run on a wild pitch to make it 2-2.

The Yellowjackets threatened again in the seventh with runners on first and second with two out but Beadle once again worked out of danger thanks to a harmless ground ball.

It was these missed opportunities that would eventually come back to haunt Hughes’ squad.

“We left 11 runners on base in the first seven innings and didn’t get a key hit when we needed to,” he said. “It’s always pitching and defense and timely hitting and our pitching and defense were solid. We just didn’t get any hitting.”

Neither team threatened to score in the next few frames as the pitching on both sides only got better as the game went on. Almaviva was particularly strong in relief for Little Falls, striking out the side in the top of the ninth.

In the bottom of the ninth, Milianta got on base with a one-out single and eventually made his way to second.

After Stark reached his pitch limit, Britten Zeh took over on the mound and struck out the first batter he faced.

But with two outs Busch stepped up and ripped a ball into the outfield, allowing Milianta to cross the plate for the game-winning run.

It’s a loss that will no doubt sting for quite a while. But it’s also a loss that figures to serve as quite the motivation for an Oneonta squad that will be returning almost all of its key players next year.

“We’ll show up and we’ll work hard and we’ll work our tails off to get bigger and better and hopefully back in this situation again next year and see what happens,” Hughes said.

Little Falls 3, Oneonta 2

OHS … 000 011 000 — 2 4 0

LF … 000 101 001 — 3 4 2

OHS: Nolan Stark, Britten Zeh (L, 9) and Jameson Brown

LF: Wyatt Beadle, Giovonni Almaviva (W, 8) and Braden McCumber

2B: Braden McCumber (LF)

Ninth inning walk-off ends Oneonta's season in Regional final (2024)
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