BINGHAMTON — Tioga took a second-inning lead and reestablished leads in the fourth and sixth innings.
“We rallied back. It was a great game. I give a lot of credit to Cooperstown,” said Tioga coach Kevin Evanek.
In the end, though, Tioga surrendered four unearned runs in the top of the seventh and couldn’t answer in a disheartening 8-7 loss to Section III Class C champion Cooperstown in the Central Region championship Saturdaty at NYSEG Stadium.
After getting out of a big jam in the top of the first inning with just one Cooperstown run allowed, Tioga put three runs on the board in the bottom of the second. Brady Worthing opened with a single and went to second on a ground out. Derrick Barto came through with an RBI double and took third on an error. Christian Weaver and Seth Franks then walked to load the bases. Pierce Hendershot followed with a two-run single and the Tigers were in business.
The Indians retaliated, though, to tie the game at 3-3 in the third. Kendall Haney, who replaced Chris Ubner after Hendershot’s base hit, opened the top of the third with a double and went to third on a wild pitch. Ben Tarofuo drew a one-out walk and went to second unencumbered. Sam Bonderoff then send both home with a base hit.
Tioga took the lead back in the fourth on a walk to Hendershot and an RBI double by Mason Booser.
Cooperstown answered in the top of the fifth on a leadoff double by Haney, who went to third on an error. Tarufo followed with a safrifice fly to bring the run in and tie the game at 4-4.
Tioga took the lead for the final time on the sixth. Weaver walked and scored ahead of Hendershot, who blasted a home run over the left field wall. Eric Deysenroth came on to pitch. With two down, John Worthing singled and Derrick Gage ripped an RBI triple past a diving fielder in center for a 7-4 Tioga lead.
Then came the seventh. Hendershot got the first batter on a liner, then gave up a double to Haney. When the next batter flied out to center the Tioga faithful were feeling good about their chances of advancing.
So was Evanek.
“I felt good about it,” said Evanek. “Pierce is the guy I want on the mound at any time. With the top of the order coming up, I knew we had our hands full and that we’d have to work for it.”
That they would. An error put Tarufo on base and allowed Haney to score. A walk to Sam Bonderoff and RBI single to right by Alex Hascup ended Hendershot’s day because hi hit the pitch count limit. Jesse Funari then greeted reliever Tom Cook with a two-run single to give the Indians an 8-7 lead Tioga’s catcher, Booser, threw Funari out at second on a steal attempt, but the damage was done.
Ubner finished what he started for Cooperstown — but not in one sitting. After being chased from the mound after 1 1/3 innings at the start of the game, Ubner came in to face Tioga’s sixth, seventh, and eighth batters and set them down in order to get the save.
Each team had opportunities to score additional runs.
In the top of the first, the Indians had runners on second and third with none out after Ryan Lansing reached on a bunt single and scored on an Ubner double. Hendershot then caught an infield fly and threw Haney out at the plate before getting the last out by strikeout.
“The first inning was a little rough for us. We were lucky to stay with one run,” said Evanek.
Tioga’s golden opportunity came in the second. Weaver was also on base when Hendershot hit his two-run single. Haney took over on the mound at that point and hit Booser to load the bases with one out. Haney settled down and got the next two batters to get pout of trouble.
Haney led Cooperstown at the plate with three doubles, three runs and one RBI. He also had three strikeouts and two walks, allowing two hits and three runs in four innings on the mound.
Tafuro had a single, one RBI and two runs; Bonderoff had a single, a run and two RBIs; Funari had a single and two RBIs; and Hascup had a single, a run and one RBI.
In addition, Lansing had a single and a run and Ubner, who also had 2 1/3 innings on the hill, allowed three runs on three hits and two walks with one strikeout, had a single and scored a run. Deysenroth allowed a single, a triple and a run in 2/3 of an inning.
Hendershot paced the Tigers at the plate with a single, a home run, two runs and four big RBIs. He also went 6 1/3 innings on the mound with eight runs allowed — only five were earned — on eight hits and four walks with nine strikeouts.
Gage had a single, a triple and one RBI; Barto had a double, run and one RBI; and Booser had a double and one RBI.
In addition, John Worthing matched Brady Worthing with a single and a run each, and Weaver scored twice.
“I give credit to them,” said Evanek. “They battled back and did what they needed to, That’s a great team.”
Evanek said his team did well this season.
“It was a great season,” he said. “We were a little disappointed we didn’t make the IAC semifinal, but we started off 1-2 then we got on a roll and leading into this game we won 10 in a row. We played well when we needed to and that was the second half of the season. I’m thankful to have my seniors (Barto, Hendershot, Weaver, and John Worthing). They did a great job of leading the team this year.”