Scrappy Plainsmen stay one step ahead of Eagles

Bryan Marotta homered, Andrew Kalish, Brandon Cogswell and Travis Belleard brought in two runs apiec

Shenendehowa had an answer for everything Bethlehem could muster, right up to the end.

Bryan Marotta homered, Andrew Kalish, Brandon Cogswell and Travis Belleard brought in two runs apiece, and Nick Rainville pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning as the Plainsmen held off stubborn Bethlehem, 9-8, in a Suburban Council game Wednesday.

“The best thing they did today was respond to everything Bethlehem did,” Shenendehowa coach Jim Carrese said after his Plainsmen ended a two-game slide. “That’s the character of this team. They will fight. They will scrap.”

Every Shenendehowa starter had at least one base hit and five knocked in runs before Rainville was the last to step up. With the bases full in the seventh, the senior right-hander got Kyle Niehaus to line out softly to first baseman David Wixted to end a game chock full of offense.

Mike Fish homered and drove in four runs for Bethlehem, Matt Branigan singled and launched a three-run shot, and four of their teammates collected two singles.

“It kind of got hectic out there,” said Rainville, who ended the sixth inning with a popout and began the seventh with another before running into trouble. “I had to throw strikes and I did, and my defense helped me out.”

Matt Cahill singled in the Eagles’ seventh and Rainville hit Sam Gallup with a pitch before recording a strikeout. After Rainville walked Alex Sobiecki on four pitches, he retired Niehaus, who made contact on a check swing.

“Rainville struggled early in the season, but he pitched three scoreless innings against [Big 10 leader] Albany,” said Marotta, Shenendehowa’s senior catcher. “He showed he could get it done. When his slider is going, it’s tough to hit.”

Branigan hit a Chris Nyman fastball for a three-run home run to get Bethlehem within 9-8 in the sixth before Rainville came on.

“I looked at him [Rainville] and said, ‘Hold the rope,’ ” Careese said. “He’s a senior who has been trying to find a way to help us for two years. He certainly helped us today.”

The victory raised Shenendehowa’s league record to 7-3 — equalling Saratoga Springs for the best mark in the North Division — while Bethlehem slipped to 5-5 in the South Division. Both teams are 8-5 overall.

“After losing to Ballston Spa [Monday, 5-0] and Colonie (Thursday, 4-3], we needed this,” Rainville said, adding. “This was a tough one. Bethlehem never stopped.”

“If I had to pick a word to describe them, it would be compet­itive,” Marotta said of the Eagles. “I’d say they’re the most compet­itive team I’ve played. I’ve faced them for three years, and it’s us­ually a pretty good game.”

Shenendehowa appeared to have control of the game after Marotta went deep in the fourth and Belleard stroked an RBI double in the fifth to make it 9-5. Branigan tightened it up with one swing in the sixth after Nyman had walked a pair with two down.

Branigan’s 400-foot homer to left ended a nine-pitch at-bat, and ended Nyman’s scoreless inning streak at eight.

“Nyman made one bad dec­ision. He tried to pitch to one of the best hitters in Section II,” Carrese said.

“Branigan is clutch,” Bethlehem coach Rob Helm said of his cleanup batter, a senior catcher. “That was a bomb. So was Marotta’s. A lot of guys hit the ball today.”

Fish homered in the first off Shenendehowa starter and winner Tyler Dehmer (3-1). The Plainsmen answered with a run in the home half on Matt Dempsey’s fielder’s choice groundout before tacking on four in the second inning, on two-out, two-run doubles by Kalish and Cogswell.

Fish and Chris Riedel sandwiched sacrifice flies around an RBI single by Jake Ostroff as Bethlehem pulled within 5-4 in the third. Dan Lenny doubled to begin the Shenendehowa third, chasing Eagles starter Randy Bowers, and scored on a passed ball soon after. Belleard’s sacrifice bunt later in the third increased Shenendehowa advantage to 7-4.

“We knocked out one of the top pitchers in the league,” Marotta said of Bowers, who has committed to Canisius. “Hopefully, we can have the same kind of offensive production [Friday] against Burnt Hills.”

Fish had his second sacrifice fly in the Bethlehem fourth and Mar­otta’s homer made it 8-5. Shenendehowa left the bases loaded in the sixth after Belleard’s RBI double gave Shenendehowa its second four-run lead.

“After losing those two games, this was a huge win for a young team,” Carrese said. “The only disappointing thing today was we had them on the ropes, up 9-5, and we had an opportunity to make it 11-5 with one hit. I think that would have put them away, mentally.”

Cogswell, Scott Buniak and Mike Williams had two hits apiece for the Plainsmen, and Wixted scored three runs.

Bethlehem 103 103 0 — 8 11 1

Shenendehowa 142 110 x — 9 12 1

Bowers, Morrill (3), Cahill (5) and Bran­igan; Dehmer, Nyman (4), Rainville (6) and Marotta.

Categories: High School Sports

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