OLEAN — Another game, another wasted pitching performance by the Olean Oilers.
The victim Tuesday night was Jack Collins, who tossed five shutout innings with 11 strikeouts but wound up without a decision as Olean fell 5-3 to the Hornell Dodgers at Bradner Stadium.
Two days after a five-run eighth inning unraveled the Oilers in a 9-7 defeat by Hornell, Olean couldn’t hold a 1-0 lead for Collins, a 6-foot-5 right-hander from Binghamton University. Relievers Parker Cole and Brandon Concevitch combined to serve up a five-spot in the sixth.
After a third straight loss dropped his team to 1-3, manager Brian O’Connell Jr. said his message to his players was short.
“I said, a lot of teams go through this in a 42-game season; just unfortunately, we’re doing it at the beginning of the season,” O’Connell said. “I’ve got to have some guys step up. There were some positives, but the hitters ... when you’ve got somebody like Collins who’s throwing a great game, you’ve got to back him up and you’ve got to score runs. There’s got to be some guys that are going to step up and be leaders on the team and make some things happen.”
For five innings, Collins, as O’Connell said, was “lights-out.” He threw 73 pitches — 53 for strikes — while allowing four hits (two infield singles), one walk and two hit batsmen. As a freshman at Binghamton, the Orchard Park native and Canisius High product pitched 29 innings — all in relief — with 35 strikeouts, 11 walks and a 3.41 ERA.
“He’s on a pitch count so he was only going 75 total, 80, and that came from his pitching coach at Binghamton,” O’Connell said. “He got through that last inning, and we made the decision to pull him. That’s what we deal with here. We have some pitchers that are on pitch counts, and we’ve got to look to our bullpen to step it up. The last two outings against these guys, we just had some tough luck when the starter came out.”
Cole (Bolivar-Richburg/Genesee CC) walked three straight batters to load the bases and was removed for Concevitch (East Georgia). Hornell’s first run came on a squeeze bunt by Tucker Holden. Two batters later, with two outs, the Oilers watched Christopher Herb’s slow-roller down the third base line stay fair, bouncing off the bag to plate another run.
Next up, Nicholas Wimmers hit a bases-clearing triple to left-center field that went off the top of the glove of a diving Dylan Vincent.
“He makes that catch, it’s a different ballgame, but he really made a good bid on it,” O’Connell said. “It was a great effort.”
Herb (Kansas State), Wimmers (Norfolk State) and Andrew Littlefield (Hanover) each went 2-for-4 for Hornell (4-2). The Dodgers also had a sharp performance on the mound from Austin Warfel (Ottawa). He went 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run on four hits with six strikeouts, no walks and two hit batters.
Vincent (Olean High/Canisius College) had an RBI single in the third inning to put Olean up 1-0. Mason Nadolney (Jacksonville) was 2-for-4.
O’Connell used three pinch hitters after the Oilers fell behind — “a lot of mixing and matching late in the game, putting guys in that potentially could hit the ball over the fence with getting some runners on to try to tie the game,” he said. “It almost worked.”
Brandon Dudley (Jacksonville), after striking out looking in a 12-pitch at-bat in the seventh inning, hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth. Noah Weiner (Ohio) ended the game by flying out to deep left.
“Dudley’s at-bat ... I don’t know how many he fouled off, but that was probably the best at-bat that I’ve seen him have the entire season,” O’Connell said. “I could sense that he was kind of getting locked in, even though he struck out that at-bat, and then you see what happened the last time he got up. He hit a bomb home run, and we just missed another home run ... just a couple feet away from getting us to 5-4.”
Dudley’s long ball gave the Oilers a home run for the fourth straight game to begin the season.
Olean hosts the Syracuse Spartans today (5 p.m.) for an interdivision doubleheader.