Jayson Sullivan’s accurate throw to the plate and a three-run outburst soon after had the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake baseball team sky high.
By the time the Spartans came down, they were state Class A champions.
Sullivan threw a Pittsford Sutherland runner out at home to end the top of the first inning, Keaton Flint smacked a two-run double in the bottom half and the Spartans continued to add on in an 8-2 title-game victory Sunday at NYSEG Stadium.
“It was great to get the team pumped up,” said Sullivan, a junior
right fielder who, after his defensive gem, had a triple, a single, scored two runs and caught a fly for the game’s final out. “I think it sparked us. Throughout the whole game we were up.”
Flint had three hits, drove in three runs and scored three, Devin Stark took a shutout into the sixth inning and Bret Dennis also gunned a runner down at home as Burnt Hills (17-10) capped an impressive 7-0 playoff push, won its first state title in its second opportunity and kept Pittsford Sutherland (Section V, 24-3) from repeating as New York’s best team.
“I think this shows that in order to win a state title, you’ve got to have a well-balanced team,” said Flint, a senior center fielder who doubled twice. “Every kid on the field has to be ready to help.”
Sullivan helped in a big way, quelling a major threat by the Knights with his strong throw from foul territory in right.
“I think we took a little momentum away from them,” said BH-BL coach Paul DeLuca. “They had the bases loaded in the first inning. I think that swung momentum right there.”
And the Spartans never let it go in winning their fourth state tournament game after knocking off Saugerties Saturday afternoon, 7-1, and Franklin Academy and Whitesboro in the regionals earlier in the week by a combined score of
19-1. The title game originally was scheduled for Saturday, but was rained out and moved to Sunday.
“We were tested only once in the playoffs, by Scotia,” DeLuca said of his team’s 4-3, nine-inning win in the Section II title game. “We went on a roll from there.”
“The last few games, we’ve come together,” said Stark. “We meshed really well.”
Mike Brienza picked up a single and a two-run double, Jeff Heck had three singles and two RBI, Dennis had two singles and an RBI and Stark scattered eight hits with two strikeouts and three walks in his second playoff win.
“We had every facet of the game going,” DeLuca said. “We had 13, 14 hits, we played errorless baseball for the second game in a row and my pitcher threw a heck of a game. It was a total team effort out there.”
“It was a great win for us,” said Sullivan. “As a team, we pulled it all together.”
It didn’t start well, though, with a walk and two singles giving the Knights a one-out, bases-loaded threat. Nick Barra then flew out to Sullivan, and the 11th-grader fired to catcher Dave Russell, who applied the tag on a sliding Hunter Merrill.
“That just pumped everyone up,” said Stark, a senior righty. “You keep them scoreless in the first. That’s huge.”
Dennis stroked a one-out single in the home first and stole second, and after Sullivan drew a walk, Flint connected for his two-run double on a full-count, hit-and-run play. Heck’s RBI single made it 3-0 later in the inning, and in the fourth, Dennis had an RBI single.
Brienza’s two-run double in the fifth made it 6-0 and chased Knights starter Jeff Kay, and in the sixth, Sullivan tripled before Flint hit an RBI double and Heck hit an RBI single.
“We’ve swung the bats well for the last two, three weeks,” said DeLuca. “I wasn’t surprised.”
“We’ve been hitting the ball great,” said Flint. “You can’t ask for anything more.”
Pittsford Sutherland got its runs in the sixth on a fielder’s choice and an RBI single by Kay, and Stark ended the inning with the bases loaded when he fanned Spencer Luke looking at a curve.
Brad Kaczka had three singles for the Knights, one coming in the third, and Zach Salvia followed with a two-out double to deep left. Brienza relayed the ball to Dennis, BH-BL’s St. John’s-bound shorstop, who from short left fired home to nail Kaczka.
“We practice our cuts, but very rarely does that happen like that,” said Flint. “It was a perfect play.”
Burnt Hills went 7-9 in the Class AA-dominated Suburban Council before its playoff run. The Spartans made their only other state final appearance in 1998 (Class A), and lost to Longwood.
Class AA, D
Shaker’s hopes for a first state title came to an end when Jeff Hoffman flew out with the bases loaded in the botom of the seventh inning in a 5-4 Class AA loss to Victor at NYSEG Stadium.
Bryan Egan hit a two-run homer for the Blue Bison (19-7). Corey McDonald hit a three-run homer for Victor (Section V, 24-1), which won its final 18 games.
Victor held a 4-3 lead in the top of the fifth when rain halted the championship game Saturday at Union-Edicott High School. Hoffman pitched a five-hitter earlier Saturday in a 6-0 semifinal win over Kingston.
Livingston Manor (Section IX, 13-8) scored six runs in the second and fifth innings, and Mikey Mills tossed a two-hitter as the Wildcats beat Loudonville Christian in the Class D final, 13-0, at NYSEG Stadium.
Dan Vorno broke up Mills’ no-hit bid with a leadoff single in the fifth, and Tim Embry singled in the seventh for the Eagles (19-3).
Livingston Manor held a 7-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth when the game was suspended Saturday due to rain at Johnson City High School.
BURNT HILLS-BALLSTON LAKE 8, PITTSFORD SUTHERLAND 2
Pittsford Sutherland 000 002 0 — 2 8 0
BH-BL 300 122 x — 8 13 0
Kay, Doggett (5) and Swisher; Stark and Russell.
Categories: High School Sports