School baseball: Bison rely on defense

That wasn’t Willie Mays or Derek Jeter making plays behind Shenendehowa High School Tuesday afternoo

That wasn’t Willie Mays or Derek Jeter making plays behind Shenendehowa High School Tuesday afternoon. It just looked like it.

Sean Fruscio, Joey Graziano and Eric Breton turned in defensive gems to back Shaker ace Tom McDonald, and the Blue Bison pushed across a pair of sixth-inning runs to edge Shenendehowa, 2-0, in a Suburban Council matchup of unbeatens.

“It was one of those days where I had everything working. Fastball, curve, slider and change, but if I had a game ball, I’d give it to my defense,” said McDonald, a Saint Rose-bound righty who scattered four singles, struck out four and walked one for his second victory of the season. “If you don’t have defense behind you, you’re not

going to win.”

Mike Skroupa drove in the only run Shaker (2-0, 5-0) needed in the sixth inning, after Fruscio quelled a Shenendehowa (1-1, 3-1) threat in the fifth with a diving, two-out catch.

“Give all the credit to Tom McDonald. He kept us off balance,” said Shenendehowa coach Jim Carrese. “He spotted the ball to all four corners and had all of his pitches working, but their defense won the game. The game turned around on that catch [by Fruscio].”

“What’s strange is that our

defense had made quite a few errors before this game,” Shaker coach

Peter Mravlja said. “We made some huge plays.”

Shenendehowa was looking for a huge comeback against McDonald in the seventh inning when David Balsalmo and Bryan Marotta singled, and Tim Jones moved them up with a sacrifice bunt. The runners held on a tapper back to McDonald, and after a walk loaded the bases, McDonald got Sam Rosenzweig to ground out to end it.

“They took advantage of some opportunities, but give my kids credit. They’re counter-punching at the end of the game, and loaded the bases,” Carrese said. “That’s why we won seven of our last eight last year, and that’s why we’ll be in games this year. These guys will battle.”

Yet Shaker had a positive responses every time, denying every Shenendehowa threat.

“That’s the way the game goes. We had opportunities and they had opportunities, and the ball fell their way,” said Shenendehowa senior Jeff Carter, who took the loss with a five-hit, four-strikeout, two-walk effort. “We’ll get them the next time.”

Shenendehowa looked like it was going to get a run in the fifth when Bryan Hunter singled with two down and Rosenzweig followed with a deep drive to the left-center gap. Fruscio ran hard, dove and made a sprawling catch near the fence to keep the game scoreless.

Graziano excelled defensively in the Shenendehowa sixth with one down, backhanding a Travis Belleard gounder deep in the hole between short and third, and firing a one-hopper toward first. Drew Trance made a successful scoop, and McDonald got out of the inning with his final strikeout.

“The way Sean tracked down that ball and made the catch, that was unbelievable. That would have been an easy double,” said Mravlja. “And that play by Joey at shortstop, that was Derek Jeter-esque.”

Vinny DiMezza doubled to start the Shaker sixth, and Blaise Agnew beat out an infield single, sending DiMezza to third. After Carter got a strikeout, Skroupa hit an oppos­ite-field, run-scoring single to right field, and Angew took third. Skroupa stole second on a strikeout, and an error enabled Agnew to score.

Shaker 000 002 0 — 2 5 0

Shenendehowa 000 000 0 — 0 4 2

McDonald and Casey; Carter and Mar­otta.

Categories: Sports

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