Days ago, Nik Malachowski tossed eight innings for Shenendehowa against Bethlehem without allowing an earned run. For the season, he’s 3-0 with a save and hasn’t allowed an earned run in 15 innings.
Move to Monday, and teammate Ben Anderson tossed six strong innings against reigning Section II Class AA baseball champion Saratoga Springs in a 7-3 victory for the Plainsmen.
At the batter’s box in that game? Anderson and Malachowski — the latter playing second base — went a combined 4-for-6 and were right in the middle of Shenendehowa’s game-deciding multi-run innings.
“They’re offensive players that can also pitch,” Shenendehowa head coach Greg Christodulu said.
That’s a good-natured exaggeration, but the senior duo is becoming that way for the Plainsmen after each rarely had the opportunity to bat a season ago when each player served almost exclusively as full-time pitchers. That exclusivity is generally the way Shenendehowa — and many other Class AA programs — handles its top throwing arms, but Anderson and Malachowski are changing that approach this year.
“[Coach] just told us to go out there and grind every day. Go out there and compete,” said Malachowski, who had consistently provided offensive punch out of the No. 3 hole in the Plainsmen’s lineup. “Benny and me, the rest of the team, we all play multiple positions. We’re good at both, whether we’re in the field or on the mound.”
“As a defense and offense, we know we’re always going to have a great pitcher on the mound, no matter who it is,” Shenendehowa third baseman Frank Pizzo said of Anderson and Malachowski. “Having them as position players is great, too. [Malachowski] is probably our best hitter, and Ben is probably our best defensive catcher.”
The offensive outputs from Anderson and Malachowski helped carry Shenendehowa (5-0, 5-1) to an early-season Suburban Council statement win against Saratoga Springs (2-3, 2-3), the program which upset the Plainsmen in last year’s title game.
“Before the season started, [when] the schedule came out, we had [this one] circled,” Anderson said.
The Blue Streaks were ahead 2-0 after their half of the third inning when Anderson, Malachowski and the rest of the Shenendehowa batters got to work. The Plainsmen scored three runs in the third inning and four in the fourth, with Malachowski offering RBI doubles in each frame and Anderson contributing a single, a run scored and a sacrifice bunt. For the game, Malachowski went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a walk, while Anderson was 2-for-3 with a double.
The Plainsmen got the first four of their runs off junior Keegan Leffler, while senior Danny Hobbs allowed the final three in a relief appearance. Saratoga Springs head coach Andy Cuthbertson said he started Leffler in the game to give the left-hander some experience against Shenendehowa, and had wanted to be able to bring Hobbs into the contest to close it out.
“That was my plan of attack, and it didn’t really work out,” he said.
Third baseman Danny Coleman and right fielder Brian Hart each had RBIs for Saratoga Springs, while Shenendehowa designated hitter Joe Fraser went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and shortstop Nick Jacques went 2-for-4.
Anderson allowed all three Saratoga Springs runs, while junior John Cady pitched a scoreless seventh inning. Leffler allowed seven hits before coming out in the fourth inning, and Hobbs allowed four hits and a walk in his appearance.
While Hobbs pitched the final three innings for his team, his pitching foe from last year’s memorable area title game was absent from action for the Plainsmen.
Ian Anderson — widely projected as a first-round pick in this year’s Major League Baseball amateur draft — still has not pitched yet this season. Christodulu said the pitcher’s illness last week was more serious than Anderson initially “let people believe,” and that the Plainsmen don’t want him back on the mound until he’s 100 percent healthy and properly conditioned.
“But all signs look good,” Christodulu said. “We’re anxious for him, but we’re also very cautious.”
Saratoga Springs 011 001 0 — 3 6 1
Shenendehowa 003 400 X — 7 11 1
Leffler, Hobbs (4) and Coffey. Anderson, Cady (7) and Connors.
Categories: High School Sports