Comeback season: James Cooke rallies again to sweep Irondequoit Post

Owen Delforte warming up in the fourth inning of Saturday’s game. (PHOTO: JOHN LIKANJE)

By JOHN LIKANJE

VICTOR, N.Y. – James Cooke starter Owen Delforte (Monroe Community College) was locked in a 1-0 pitching duel with Irondequoit Post ace, Jackson DeJohn (Irondequoit), for five innings. Delforte had only given up two hits – both of which came in the fourth. DeJohn had fanned 11 batters and pitched out of multiple jams.

It was only natural that when Delforte allowed three runs in the sixth for the James Cooke parents to shout at head coach Joe Kurnath, “New pitcher, Joe! Take him out! He’s starting to get tired!” However, Kurnath trusted his ace to get the job done.

“There are certain times when you got to say ‘To the wind’ with pitch counts because he’s a grinder, he’s a gamer,” Kurnath said. “He always has been and he wants it. Seeing his body language and seeing his demeanor was huge and he was around the zone.”

Kurnath’s move paid off as not only did Delforte finish the sixth, the starter drew a key walk in the top of the seventh as part of a five-run rally.

“I was just listening to coach,” Delforte said. “Take it until you get a strike. Do anything to get on base so that we have a chance for the next person to get a run in.”

James Cooke sent 10 men to the plate and connected on six hits to sweep Irondequoit Post in a best-of-three series at Victor High School.

Located at 1475 E. Henrietta Road near Monroe Community College.

Bill Brady (Victor) and Will Tehan (Victor) collected back-to-back singles and Delforte drew a two-out walk to load the bases and force DeJohn out of the game. Brady hustled home on a wild pitch for James Cooke’s first run of the game. Zachary Carpin (Clarkson University) cracked a two-run double down the left field line and brought in Delforte and Tehan to cut the deficit to 4-3.

“When it’s late in the game and we’re down, crowd the plate, take until you see a strike and just battle,” Kurnath said. “Sometimes the grit shows up, sometimes it doesn’t. Thankfully, with two outs, the guys put it together.”

Timmy Keohane (Victor) singled up the middle to set up runners at the corners for Dave Kelley (Victor). Kelley launched a fly ball over the left fielder’s head to the fence. Although it ended up as a single, the junior third baseman had driven in Carpin and Keohane and gave James Cooke a 5-4 lead.

“That kid stepped up, hit a bomb and that’s all we can ask for,” Delforte said about Kelley.

 

 

Delforte took it from there, retiring the side in the seventh and sending James Cooke to next week’s District final.

 

 

Delforte struck out eight batters in a complete game effort. The right-hander retired nine of the first 10 hitters he faced.

“I thought I did pretty good,” Delforte said about his outing. “I had a few pitches that hung up there. But I trust my arm. I trust my stuff and I just throw. I talk with my pitching.”

“Commanding his fastball is obviously always important,” Kurnath said about Delforte. “Getting those strikes early. He had it working.”

 

 

At the dish, Delforte singled, was hit by a pitch, drew a walk and scored a run in four plate appearances. Tehan connected for a pair of singles in four at-bats. Keohane went 1-for-3 and was hit by a pitch. Along with his two-run double, Carpin drew a walk.

For Irondequoit Post, DeJohn came one out shy of a complete game. The senior right-hander allowed three hits and three walks to go along with 11 strikeouts. After giving up back-to-back singles to start the game, DeJohn retired nine of the next 10 batters he faced.

“Jackson DeJohn kept us in check,” Kurnath said. “He did an incredible job. We did next to nothing. He had us fooled. He had us swinging at bad pitches. He commanded the zone well.”

 

 

Nick Serce (Alfred State College) lined a pair of doubles and scored two runs in four at-bats. Jacob Russo (Eastridge) reached on a fielder’s choice and cracked a two-run double to right center in the sixth. Braden Graham (Irondequoit) ripped an RBI triple to give Irondequoit a 4-0 lead.

 

 

Chad Gartland (Irondequoit) singled, drove in a run and reached on an error. DeJohn collected a base knock and crossed the plate once in three at-bats.

James Cooke will face Rayson Miller in the District final starting Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at Victor High School. Rayson Miller swept Greece Post in the semifinal earlier in the day.

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