By JONATHAN SAWYER
OLEAN, N.Y. – The Syracuse Jr. Chiefs came to the plate in the sixth inning of Sunday night’s New York Collegiate Baseball League Championship Series game looking to add to their one-run lead. By the end of the frame, their slight edge turned into an insurmountable deficit, and the Olean Oilers Dave Vaccaro (St. Bonaventure) played a leading role.
Vaccaro turned in a pair of defensive gems and keyed an 11-run outburst as the Oilers claimed their second straight NYCBL title with a 13-6 victory.
“Dave’s a great player all around and he works all the time, and that shows the type of player he is,” Oilers coach Bobby Bell said. “Maybe the type of team we are, we hustle all the time and we make sure that any mistake, we try to capitalize on.”
Vaccaro took away a hit when he made a sliding catch of a Sam Little (Ithaca College) sinking line drive in center field for the first out of the Syracuse sixth.
“It was a line drive, and it was tailing into the lights,” Vaccaro explained. “I had to take a second to find it because I lost it and saw it last second and made the dive.”
This was only the start to an array of plays by Vaccaro in the sixth inning alone.
After a one-out Joe DeLuca (College of St. Rose) base hit, Connor Lafferty (Desales) singled to right center. Vaccaro came up throwing on a line to get Deluca trying to take third on the play.
The centerfielder continued making his impact when the Oilers came to the plate.
With teammate Mark Koloszvary (University of Florida) aboard, Vaccaro worked a two-out base on balls. When Evan Ryan (St. John Fisher) singled to left center, Vaccaro rounded the bag at second and alertly moved to third on an error. The throw from the outfield went to the backstop, and he scampered home with the go-ahead run.
“I saw an opportunity on the base paths and I am usually an aggressive base runner,” Vaccaro said. “I was wheeling around the base paths and saw a window and I just busted down the line to get home.”
By the time he came to the dish again, Olean led 10-3. Vaccaro plated a pair of insurance runs with a triple.
“I had two strikes on me and I was just thinking shorten up and try to spray something that way,” Vaccaro commented. “He threw me a fastball on the outside corner and went with it.”
Vaccaro finished the day 2-for-3 with a walk, two RBI and two runs scored for a series total of four hits including three for extra-bases. He earned Championship Series Offensive MVP honors.
“I have been working all summer with my man I call the hit doctor,” Vaccaro added. “It has really paid off the second half of the year and glad I could help my team get a win tonight.”
Bell used one word to describe the feeling he had to hear Vaccaro earned the playoff honor: “awesome.”
“Dave has been working so hard in the cages every day, so for him to get that was icing on the cake,” Bell said. “That is a feel good award because he is one kid who can hit the ball but struggled at the beginning of the summer. As he progressed, he kept working and working.”