After producing wins on Saturday to advance to the baseball state semifinals, both the Maine-Endwell and Susquehanna Valley baseball teams are my Athletes of the Week.
On a Saturday filled with great baseball at NYSEG Stadium, two teams stood out above the rest.
In their games, both Susquehanna Valley and Maine-Endwell faced their own moments of adversity.
For SV, the Sabers were in a pitching and defensive battle with Skaneateles.
It took awhile for the Sabers offense to get rolling. But, according to pitcher Dom Chesna, the team never got down in the dugout.
“We just kept trying to get people up. If they strike out, we tell them to get right back up. I knew eventually we’d start getting the bats going, and it worked out for us in the end,” he said.
With Chesna shutting the Lakers down on the mound, the offense went to work beginning in the bottom of the 5th.
SV would score four unanswered runs, while Chesna secured a one-hit, one-run victory.
Sabers head coach Steve Haskell says this type of outing from one of his seniors isn’t unusual.
“Dom’s been great all year, his whole career. Perseverance represents him big time. He’s fought through different things all his life. He’s a gamer. He wants the ball and he enjoys the opportunity,” says Haskell.
SV certainly set the bar high for the next teams that took the field at NYSEG.
And enter Maine-Endwell.
The Spartans came out and looked to make a statement early.
They put up four runs and had Roosevelt on the ropes after just two innings.
But, that’s why they play seven.
After trailing and coming back to tie the game in the 6th, the next inning, another senior stepped into the spotlight.
Struggling at the plate of late, M-E’s Josh Chandler capitalized on the opportunity in front of him.
Chandler pounded a three-run home run to give the Spartans a walk-off win.
What makes the moment even better for Josh was knowing all the hard work he’s been putting in paid off.
“I’ve been in a slump the past few games. I’ve been working extra time with Mr. Raleigh, coach Raleigh. Loose hands, loose elbows. I just, I finally out it into action. I’ve been waiting to do it. But, it finally happened,” Chandler said.
What’s even more impressive than the extra effort and end result is the fact that Josh had been putting in that extra time just hours before first pitch Saturday.
“Josh actually texted me today at one o’clock. He said coach can you down and throw me some extra B.P.? So, it was just him and I on the field for 45 minutes. It was the best round of B.P. he had all year. No one else around, worked with him or about 40 minutes. He probably hit a dozen to 15 home runs. He was killing the ball. He had a rough day, but before the game, I told the coaches he’s going to do something special today because I can see something different. They thought I was crazy because the first two at-bats, three at-bats, he didn’t have very good at-bats. So, I couldn’t be happier for a guy that’s been struggling a little bit of late to have that senior moment. It’s a good feeling for him,” Coach Raleigh said.
Both teams came through with hard-fought wins that included high drama and tension.
And, of course, after playing all day in the heat, you have to make sure to shower after.
“It’s a great feeling,” says Chesna.
Both M-E and SV take the field on Friday with a trip to the state championship game on the line.