When the Chapel Field baseball team took the field for the first time in March, coach Shawn Powell told his team he had one goal.
He wanted to play on the last day of the season.
However, the rest of the mission – winning on the last day of the season – will have to wait until next year as the Lions lost the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class D championship game, 14-5, to the Deposit-Hancock Eagles on Saturday at Bearcat Stadium in Binghamton.
“We’ve been talking about that since the Section 9 championship that it was the last game of the New York State season and I want to be there,” Powell said. “We are capable. We deserve to be there, and we earned the right to be here tonight. I am so proud of them.”
They got there with a 6-0 win over the Eldred Yellowjackets in the Section 9 championship game on May 29. They followed a week late in the state regionals with a 2-0 victory over Section 2 champion Germantown.
They accomplished their mission of reaching the last day of the season on Friday when they beat Section 6 champion Clymer/Sherman/Panama, 8-1, at SUNY Broome.
The Lions played about a game a week, allowing the entire run to rest on the right arm of Leam Powell, who threw three complete games in that stretch.
Coming back on a second straight day for the first time in about a month, the Lions turned to Bryce Hollo, who retired the Eagles in order in the first inning before he helped stake himself to a 1-0 lead when he was hit with a pitch by Eagles’ pitcher Chris Gross and scored on Mike Bonagura’s RBI single.
However, the defense betrayed the Lions in the second inning as the Lions made two errors in the inning, leading to two unearned runs for the Eagles.
With one out, Thomas Reis reached on an error by Bonagura at third base and came around to score when Nick Locke blasted a double to deep right field. Locke came around to score on Logan Barns’ RBI single, giving the Eagles a 2-1 lead.
“We need to work on hitting and have a couple players that can pitch more,” Leam Powell said.
The Lions made six errors in the game, leading to five unearned runs.
“There’s a little disappointment,” coach Powell said. “We came in very hopeful that we could get the job done and play good team defense. We got a little rattled and tried to make a few extra plays and do a little extra and made some mental mistakes and a few mental mistakes. You can’t in a baseball game if you’ve got more errors than you do hits.”
The Lions scored a single run in he fifth inning when Gross hit Bonagura with a pitch with the bases loaded.
Even though the Lions trailed by 12 runs entering the bottom of the seventh inning they strung together some hits and put up another three runs before Deposit-Hancock coach Ryan Smith brought Blake Fortunato into pitch to get the final two outs.
“It boosted our confidence a little bit and it showed we can compete if we’re on our game,” Leam Powell said.
This year was a building season for the Lions, who will lose only two seniors from this year’s team – Daimen Storch and Tyler Hossink. The rest are expected back to improve on this year’s state-runner-up finish.
Next year, the Lions won’t want to merely get the last day of the NYSPHSAA baseball season. They’ll want to finish the job and be one of the only teams in the state to end the season with a win.
“The measure of a man is to finish the job,” coach Powell said. “Sometimes you learn more about yourself when you lose. You really have to battle through that. Life’s not fair; you don’t always get the ball to bounce your way, but you’ve got to keep swinging and there are people around you that are going to be there. I give these guys a lot of credit for fighting there at the end and showing what we’re capable of.”