Things couldn’t have gone much better for Schenectady’s young baseball team Friday in its Big 10 debut.
The Patriots pushed across nine runs in the second inning after Cole Gozalkowski pitched out of two early jams, and Kyle Mohr was nearly perfect in relief to finish off a 12-2 victory over Albany at Central Park’s Buck Ewing Field.
Every position starter had at least one base hit, and the Patriots rapped out 12 of them in all. Six of those hits came in the big second inning, two off the bat of Tyrone Cassetta.
“This is a good start for us,” said Schenectady coach John Isabella. “We wanted to come out of the gate real strong. We swung the bats, and we were aggressive.”
Schenectady added a run in the third and two more in the fourth, got five solid inning from Gozalkowski and played clean in the field to successfully bounce back from Tuesday’s season-opening 11-1 loss at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake.
“This was a good win, a good team win,” said Cassetta, a senior shortstop who finished with three singles and an RBI. “It lets us know that we can produce runs.”
“It definitely feels good to get our feet under us, get a win and get some confidence,” said senior third baseman Matt Center, who had a double, single and three runs batted in. “Hopefully, we can get another win when we play these guys again on Monday.”
Schenectady went 4-11 in Big 10 games last year (5-15 overall) and failed to qualify for the Section II Class AA playoffs for the first time since 2004. The Patriots took their first step to what they hope is a postseason return with a roster that includes six seniors, and only two who saw steady action last year: Cassetta and Greg Dobies.
“Last year was tough on some of these guys, and that burned in their belly. They came out this year determined to do well,” said Isabella. “Some of them were very humbled last year.”
Schenectady needs to win half of its 16 league games to earn a playoff berth.
“It’s huge to start out 1-0,” said Gozalkowski, a junior righty who gave up five hits and two runs, walked two and struck out four. “Now we’ve got to get two. After that, we’ll look for three.”
“That’s always our goal, make sectionals,” said Isabella. “We’re in the building process, no doubt about it, but our first goal hasn’t changed. We’ve got some good players here.”
Every starter contributed in the nine-run outburst. The inning consisted of the half-dozen hits, as well as two walks, three stolen bases and a pair of throwing errors by the Falcons.
“That equals a great inning,” said Isabella.
“It all piled up,” said Center. “We took advantage of some things they did. We just capitalized.”
Albany starter Steve Zimring walked a batter and hit another to start the second before Cassetta blooped a single into short right field. An overthrow gave Schenectady its first run, and Center followed with a two-run single up the middle.
“If we don’t execute our game plan, we’re not going to be successful,” said Albany coach Dave Preston, who, with two seniors, has the league’s youngest team. “We can’t throw it around. We can’t make errors.”
A walk and an infield error made it 4-0, Gabe Viscariello legged out a two-run triple, and Zach Porto, Mike Randazzo and Cassetta hit RBI singles to pad the Patriots’ lead. Porto picked up another RBI on a groundout in the third and Center smacked an RBI double in the fourth.
Gozalkowski sent the Falcons (0-3, 0-4) down in order in those two innings before allowing three hits, including RBI singles by Kenan Worden and Zimring, in the fifth.
“Cole came out a different pitcher after that,” Isabella said of the second-inning uprising. “He came out with a little more zip on his fastball.”
“I was thrilled with that,” Gozalkowski said. “The team puts up nine after a tough inning, and I just rode it.”
Gozalkowski ended the first with consecutive strikeouts after Worden and Zimring sandwiched singles around a flyout. Gozalkowski walked the first two batters he faced in the second before he recorded a strikeout, got an out on a sacrifice bunt and then handled a come-backer.
“They took momentum from that and ran with it,” said Preston. “Getting the big hit has definitely been a point where we’ve been struggling. We didn’t jump on them when we had opportunities.”
Mohr retired six of the seven batter he faced, with strikeouts to start and end his relief effort to go with a walk. The junior is expected to get the start Monday when Schenectady and Albany meet at Saint Rose.
“Hopefully, we can keep it going,” said Isabella. “We’re hoping for back-to-back [wins].”
Albany 000 020 0 — 2 5 3
Schenectady 091 200 x — 12 12 0
Zimring, Foley (3) and Grittsavage;
Gozalkowski, Mohr (6) and Patierne.
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Categories: High School Sports