OSWEGO — Behind six solid frames on the mound from Matt Krul and a three-run home run by Billy Waterbury, the Oswego varsity baseball team punched its ticket to sectionals with a 9-0 win over Indian River on Wednesday.
Entering the day with three regular-season games remaining, head coach John Finch said his message to the team was to “just take care of business today and not put it off.”
“Just win,” said Finch.
The Bucs did just that, taking the lead in the first inning and never relenting en route to the victory.
Krul worked a 1-2-3 top of the first, then helped his own cause, driving home Tom Kirwan with a sacrifice fly to give Oswego a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
“It was nice to see that we manufactured the run to get the lead, and then it was nice to see that we were able to tack on and extend it as we went,” said Finch.
The Bucs added two more runs in the third, with Tyler Dean singling up the middle to bring home both Waterbury and Krul, extending the lead to 3-0.
After Krul stranded a runner at third in the top of the fourth, Oswego broke the game wide open in the bottom half of the frame.
Owen Sincavage reached on an error to start the inning, with a walk to Kirwan putting two runners on. Indian River starter Logan Fultz was able to record a pair of outs, but Waterbury stepped up and crushed a two-strike pitch over the left field fence for a no-doubt three-run homer, emphasizing the blast with a bat flip toward the Buc dugout.
“It was my first home run since I was in Little League, so I was really happy about it,” said Waterbury. “As soon as it came off the bat, I knew it was gone, so I had to give them a little bat flip.”
“He hit it well,” Finch said of Waterbury’s home run. “It wasn’t like we were sitting back and thinking (three runs) was enough, but it was good to expand and tack on with that big inning.”
The homer doubled the lead, but the Bucs weren’t done yet. A walk to Krul extended the inning, with an errant pickoff attempt moving the pitcher to second base. Jack Reynolds followed up with an RBI single, adding another run and giving Oswego a 7-0 lead at the end of the inning.
In the top of the fifth, left fielder Brett Harriott and shortstop Kirwan combined to throw out a runner at third, ending the inning and sending the Bucs back to bat. They added on again, with Kirwan singling home Sincavage before the shortstop eventually came across to score on a passed ball, giving Oswego a 9-0 lead.
Finch said he felt his team had strong at-bats throughout the game, with seven of the Bucs’ nine starters reaching base at least once in the win.
“I think there were some pretty good at-bats, good approaches,” said Finch. “We had some hits with two strikes that were big. Billy’s hit was a two-strike swing, and that’s encouraging for us moving forward, if we can still produce when we’re down in the count like that.”
Krul struck out a pair of batters in a scoreless sixth inning, bringing his night to an end. The junior struck out six batters and walked only one, allowing just three hits in the win.
“I felt good,” Krul said of the outing. “It was just flowing, just strike after strike. Just kept letting them hit the ball, and my team do the work for me.”
“I mean, he’s been good for us all year,” said Finch of his pitcher. “It was nice to see him back to where he was earlier, and then Jude came in and closed it out.”
Jude Parker entered in the seventh, tossing a 1-2-3 inning to end the game, sealing a 9-0 win for Oswego and a spot in sectional play.
“It felt great,” Waterbury said of clinching a playoff spot. “Definitely going to try to win these last two games, but it felt relieving, that’s for sure.”
Waterbury was 3-3 at the plate with a home run, two singles, and three RBIs for the Bucs. Kirwan went 2-4 with an RBI, while Dean and Thompson each added run-scoring singles. Krul also drove in a run with a sac fly.
Oswego (8-10) will play a split doubleheader against East Syracuse-Minoa and Christian Brothers Academy on Saturday, ending the regular season. While the team has now clinched a spot in sectionals, Finch said the goal is to enter the postseason “with some momentum.”
“We have two games left, and we’re going to try to compete our tails off and see what we can do in those two games as well,” said Finch.
“It feels really good to know we’re in, but it doesn’t give us a reason to stop,” Krul added.