The Mohonasen baseball team ended its playoff drought Wednesday with an 11-3 Suburban Council win over Niskayuna at Memorial Park.
Coach Jim Huggins is hoping his Mighty Warriors put an end to their hitting woes, as well.
“One of the places we’ve struggled all year is offensively. We’ve talked about putting the ball in play with guys on base over and over,” Huggins said. “We’re a good hitting club. We just haven’t broke out. Maybe today was a start of something.”
Mohonasen clubbed three home runs, including a grand slam by Ben Gatchell, and roughed up the Silver Warriors to secure a spot in the Class A sectionals for the first time since 2005.
Robert Tedesco launched a three-run homer for Mohonasen (5-4, 7-5), Alex Massaroni drilled a two-run shot and a double and David Hondro added an RBI double to back Gatchell, who went the distance on the mound.
“We’ve been waiting for this
moment,” Gatchell, a senior lefty, said of making the Section II tournament. “It’s something we’ve been talking about for a while.”
Mohonasen had a chance to qualify for the playoffs in its previous two games, but lost to Shaker, 4-2, and Columbia, 4-3, in eight innings.
“I think our guys were too excited at the plate in those games. They knew we needed one win to make it,” said Huggins. “We finally got over the hurdle, but we’ve still got the White Division on the line. We want to get hot and keep our eye that, and on the big prize.”
That would be the Section II Class A title. Mohonasen earned its tournament bid because of Section II’s new two-for-one criteria which rewards smaller schools (based on enrollment) two points for a win against larger schools in league play.
“Mohonasen is a good team,” said Niskayuna coach John Furey. “They deserve it.”
The Silver Warriors (5-4, 10-4) are still two league victories away from making the Class AA sectionals, where, in 2007, they advanced to the semifinals before losing to eventual champion Guilderland.
“The challenge is in front of us. We may not make it,” said Furey, whose team broke up Gatchell’s shutout attempt with three seventh-inning runs. “There’s always that chance, but I feel we’re solid enough, and we’ll be fine.”
Four Niskayuna hurlers combined for 12 walks, and eight of them eventually turned into runs.
“They gave, and we took,” said Gatchell, who belted his grand slam in the second inning after Niskayuna starter Shawn Callahan walked the bases full. “We took a lot of pitches, and it helped out a lot.”
Tedesco got Mohonasen on the board in the first inning with his three-run shot over the fence in right-center field, which followed leadoff walks to Pat Herrington and Scott Lindsay.
Callahan ran into more trouble in the next inning when he walked C.J. Fonda with one down and
Fonda stole second. Fonda moved to third on a flyout, and after Lindsay walked and stole second, Callahan intentionally walked Tedesco. Gatchell followed with his grand slam, pulling a fastball down the right-field line near the 340-foot sign.
Hondro hit his RBI double after another walk in the second inning, and Massaroni followed a walk in the fourth with his two-run homer. Herrington walked to start the fifth, and tallied Mohonasen’s final run on a wild pitch.
Niskayuna 000 000 3 — 3 6 0
Mohonasen 350 210 x — 11 6 1
Callahan, Kenealy (2), Bell (4), Tyson (6) and Rahn, Wyngowski; Gatchell and Herrington.
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