TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Chatham baseball team showed just how good it is Saturday night by playing arguably its’ worst game of the season…and still winning.
The Panthers eked out a 3-2 victory against Duanesburg in the Class C/CC final at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium; a matchup that decides which team represents Class C for Section II in the state tournament.
Despite being baffled by Duanesburg starting pitcher Peyton Fall for most of the evening, Chatham used aggression on the base paths, timely, late-game hitting and some Matt Thorsen magic on the mound to pull out the victory.
The Eagles put the defending state champs on their heels early. With runners on first and second with one out in the third inning, Fall grounded into a fielder’s choice to shortstop, but the throw to first for the double play got away from Chatham’s Cam Horton, which allowed Ayden Fall to come around to score the game’s first run.
Fall advanced to second base on the errant throw, and was promptly brought home by the next batter, designated hitter Daniel Menzies, on a roped single right back up the middle, giving the Eagles a 2-0 lead.
That proved to be the last run – matter of fact – the last hit Thorsen would allow the rest of the game.
But Chatham still had not cracked the code against Fall, and were held hitless heading into the fourth inning. That’s where they started putting pressure on via the run game.
Thorsen led off the inning with a walk, stole second and then came around score after a catcher overthrow while he attempted to swipe third. That cut the Panthers’ deficit to one run.
The exact same occurrence happened in the seventh inning to pitch runner Noah Hutchinson, who came in to run for Horton after a lead-off double. Hutchinson took off for third, saw the ball sail into left field, and raced home to tie the game at two.
That overthrow also allowed Chatham catcher, Logan Smalley, who had reached on a walk after Horton’s double, to advance to third base with still no outs in the inning.
After Fall recorded a punchout for the first out of the inning, Chatham’s junior third baseman, Jake Taylor, strode to the plate with the winning run 90 feet away. He served a high-and-away fastball out to right field, which dunked in for a single, plating Smalley, and Taylor, the hero of the night for Chatham, was mobbed at first base by his teammates.
Fall had been living on the outside part of the plate all evening, and Taylor knew that if he was going to get the ball in play, he’d have to go with that outside pitch.
“I was just focused on barreling the ball, and getting it on the ground,” said a sopping wet Taylor, who had just been doused by his teammates with a water and Gatorade bath. “I tried to hit it right side. I did, and it won us the game. We have heart. Everyone was in it until the end. No one gave up.”
Head coach Scott Steltz said after Chatham’s win against Coxsackie-Athens for the Patroon League Championship that his team embraces adversity. The Panthers certainly backed that up Saturday night.
“Going into the bottom of the seventh, I said, “this is where we wanna be; we love this adversity,”” said Steltz. “Me and Coach (Jordan) McComb were talking…”the bottom of our lineup’s had the better swings (of late), so let’s just let them do what they do, and hopefully get a runner on; we can get them on, hopefully get (the lineup) back to the top, and win this thing.” It’s cool to see this with this group again. It’s cool for our community, and we love being at Joe Bruno. Our kids love it, so it was just a lot of fun to do it again tonight.”
Chatham’s quest to repeat as state champs begins Saturday, June 3 in regionals. The Panthers will await the winner of a sub-regional matchup between Sec. VII’s Ticonderoga and Sec. X’s Canton. The location of the game is dependent on which team wins as well. If Ticonderoga wins, the game will be played at SUNY Plattsburg. If Canton wins, Chatham heads to St. Lawrence University.