Ryan Zielinski got the opportunity he was looking for, and Zach Andi got a pitch he could handle.
Zielinski worked his way out a of a bases-loaded, seventh-inning jam, and Andi homered for the first time in his varsity career and drove in four runs in Schenectady’s 7-5 Big 10 win over Amsterdam Wednesday at chilly Central Park.
Zielinski’s work in relief enabled Adam DeFruscio to gain his first victory of the season, while Joe Borowski had two hits and an RBI, and Dante Shafer had two hits, scored a run and made several flashy plays at second base to help the Patriots extend their league record to 3-1.
“Not one player is going to win it for us,” Zielinski, a senior right-hander, said after picking up his second save. “It’s got to be a team effort out there. That’s the way it’s been, so far.”
Sean Whitty had three hits for the Rams, and Kyle Rufer had a double and two RBI, his second on a sacrifice fly making it a 7-5 game in the seventh inning.
Zielinski got Steve Gardner to line out to center fielder Brian Imfeld to seal the contest in which Schenectady had built a pair of five-run leads.
“I knew Amsterdam wasn’t
going to go away,” said Schenectady coach John Isabella. “They’re a good team. They battle and battle.”
Zielinski did so, too, after taking over for Isaiah Earing in the seventh inning with the bases loaded, one down and a 7-3 lead.
“I told coach before the seventh inning that if our pitcher got in trouble, I wanted to go in,” said Zielinski, one of only four 12th-graders on the Patriots’ roster. “I wanted to get it done.”
Zielinski wasn’t able to do that in Schenectady’s 4-3, eight-inning non-league loss to Ballston Spa Saturday.
“We were up, 3-1, in the sixth. He gave up two in the seventh and another in the eighth,” Isabella said of Zielinski’s effort at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown. “I never lost confidence in him. Today, he said he wanted the ball again, and I gave it to him. He’s a gamer.”
Three walks by Earing, an infield single by Whitty and Joe Quist’s run-scoring groundout set the stage for Zielinski in the top of the seventh. The Rams got a run on a passed ball by Pats’ catcher Alex Jurczynski, and after another walk re-loaded the bases, Rufer lofted his sacrifice fly before Imfeld snagged Gardner’s sinking liner.
“My guys battle. I’m proud of the way they hung in there, and if that ball drops, who knows what may have happened,” said Amsterdam coach Bob Noto. “They played hard all the way through.”
Andi wasn’t surprised Zielinski successfully rebounded against the Rams (2-2, 4-3), who came in with a three-game win streak, including a 19-10 triumph over five-time defending Big 10 champ LaSalle, and an
18-8 victory over Catholic Central.
“When Ryan comes in to relieve, I know he’s going to close it out,” said Andi, a junior right fielder. “I have a lot of faith in him. We all do.”
Andi singled and later scored on a rundown to give Schenectady (4-2 overall) a second-inning lead, and in the third, Borowski singled home a run and Andi brought in another with a bases-loaded walk to make it 3-0. Rufer doubled in the Amsterdam fifth and scored on Jose Ramirez’ groundout before Schenectady increased its lead in the bottom half to 6-1 on Andi’s liner over the left field fence.
“He [Andi] started off kind of slow, but now he’s in a groove,” Isabella said. “His home run proved to be very big.”
Jurczynski drew a one-out walk off Rufer, and Nick Ottati beat out an infield single before Andi’s drive just to the right of the 345-foot sign. The homer was only the second this season for Schenectady, with Shafer going deep against Ballston Spa.
“It was a high fastball,” said Andi. “I thought it was going to be a double the way it came off the bat. When I realized it was a home run, it felt kind of good.”
Amsterdam scored its second run off DeFruscio in the sixth on Rufer’s groundout, and Schenectady got it back in the bottom of the inning when Ottati drew a bases-loaded walk.
DeFruscio allowed six hits, struck out two and walked three. He left in the sixth with runners on the corners and two down, and Earing, the Pats’ lone sophomore, got Ramirez on a groundout to end the threat.
Amsterdam 000 011 3 — 5 7 2
Schenectady 012 031 x — 7 8 1
Whitty, Rufer (5) and Hugo; DeFruscio, Earing (6), Zielinski (7) and Jurczynski.