ORISKANY — It’s been a couple years since West Canada Valley’s baseball team reached the Class D finals of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships.
Even then, the Indians didn’t win a league title.
Seven seniors who played on that 2016 team, however, are still around — including three-year starters Colin Maxwell, Matt Tobin, Cade Smith and Mason Schloop and Steve Morreale, Kris Crossett and Collin Williams — and Wednesday, they helped West Canada Valley clinch at least a share of the Center State Conference Division III title with an 8-6 victory over archrival Oriskany.
It’s the Indians’ first league title in Greg Jones’ eight seasons as their head coach. And the win was the 10th straight for a West Canada Valley team whose only setback is an 11-4 loss to — you guessed it, Oriskany — back on April 20.
"I’m happy for those seven seniors who hadn’t won a league title. They deserve this," Jones said. "Now, they’ve finally got one. … And of course, they had to go through Oriskany. It’s just two good baseball programs that like to go at it all the time."
West Canada Valley, 12-1 in the league and overall, has two regular-season games remaining before Sunday’s Section III seeding meeting—– the Indians hold their Senior Night on Friday, when they host Little Falls in a nonleague matchup, and they finish up with a CSC game at Poland at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Oriskany, 10-2 in the league and 13-2 overall, had won 11 straight games since an 8-5 loss to New York Mills. Oriskany has two league games remaining — at Dolgeville on Thursday and home Friday or Saturday against Old Forge.
West Canada Valley’s Maxwell, a senior lefty, avenged his only loss of the season and improved to 4-1 with Wednesday’s win. He went six innings and then Tobin finished up, throwing a 1-2-3 seventh inning for his third save of the season.
Tobin also led the hit parade, going 3 for 4 with two RBIs. He leads the Indians with a .641 batting average, three home runs and 29 RBIs.
Smith had two doubles and three RBIs, and Schloop and Connor Lynch also had two hits each for West Canada Valley.
"It’s huge, just these seven seniors having been there," Jones said of that 2016 season, when the Indians won Section III and Central Region titles before losing to Fort Plain in the state final. "Just being there and being a part of that is big, just knowing what it takes. And certainly a game like today helps prepare you for what you hope is still to come."
The Indians trailed 5-4 before scoring four times — all with two outs — in the top of the fifth inning.
Tobin got it started with a one-out double. Morreale, Smith and Lynch then hit three straight doubles and Schloop added an RBI single that gave West Canada Valley an 8-5 lead.
Oriskany starter Aaron Drake (3-1) pitched five innings and took the loss. Matt Enos and Brandon Reid had two hits each for Oriskany.
"It’s always a quality game between us," said Oriskany coach Tom Meiss. "Aaron pitched well and we played hard all day, West Canada just made more plays than we did in the end. It’s still a good game to get under your belt going into sectionals."
Oriskany has won at least a share of a CSC division title each of the last five years, and the 2014 and 2015 teams won Section III Class D championships.