TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Shenendehowa and Saratoga Springs baseball teams will renew the Battle of I-87 for the Sec. II, Class AA championship.
Joseph L. Bruno Stadium played host Monday night to a pair of semi-final matchups in the AA playoff tournament. No. 2 Saratoga outlasted No. 3 Niskayuna 3-1, while top-seeded Shen’s matchup with the five-seed Bethlehem contained a bit more drama. The Plainsmen had to overcome a three-run deficit to top the Eagles 6-3, setting up a three-game championship series between the class’ top two teams.
Runs were at a premium in the first game until the Blue Streaks’ bats came alive in the bottom of the fourth inning. Left fielder Drew Adams broke a scoreless tie with an RBI single. Second baseman Orion Lansing followed up two batters later by dunking a single into center field that scored Adams, and ‘Toga maintained a two-run edge with four innings in the book.
Niskayuna managed to string some runners together, though, in the fifth frame. With the bases loaded, designated hitter Jacob Pirrone-Salisbury brought a run across with a sacrifice fly to center field. However, Saratoga starting pitcher Christian Mello managed to minimize the damage, inducing a lineout to right for the third out of the inning, ending the Silver Warriors’ threat.
That would be the only time Niskayuna managed to break through against the Blue Streaks pitching staff. ‘Toga first baseman Michael Mack retaliated in the bottom of the fifth with a run-scoring single, growing the margin back to two runs. And after a scoreless sixth inning from Mello, Trevor Duthaler came on in relief, and promptly recorded the final three outs, pushing Saratoga onto the title series.
The offense came early and often in game two, but for just one team: Bethlehem. After plating a run in the first inning on an RBI single from Dan Battista, the Eagles tallied another two runs in the third inning on RBI singles from Jack Vagianelis and Clayton Dutfield. They maintained a 3-0 edge after three innings.
But the Plainsmen showed no quit. After loading the bases in the bottom of the fourth, Jason Clawson brought a pair of runners home with two-run single to center, trimming the deficit to one run.
Shen stacked the base paths again two innings later, and after Thomas Hall brought across the game-tying run with an infield single, the next batter, Ethan Farina, walloped a ball down the left-field line. Farina’s go-ahead double plated a pair of Plainsmen, putting them out in front 5-3.
Shen tacked on one more run in the inning, and R.J. Ensel locked down the seventh inning on the mound, tossing a one, two, three frame to send the Plainsmen on a collision course with Saratoga for the AA crown.
Game one of the championship series is set for Wednesday at “The Joe.” First pitch is slated for 7:00 p.m. Game two will be at the same time Friday, and the same goes for game three (if necessary) Sunday.