Matt Rash wasn’t a bit surprised when Plattsburgh pitcher Andrew Bechard issued an intentional walk to Schalmont slugger Chris Hamilton with Thursday’s Class B sub-regional game tied at two in the bottom of the fifth inning.
“It happens all the time,” Rash, the Sabres’ junior shortstop, said. “Two outs, an open base, they’re going to walk him. I’m thinking, ‘This is my time. Let’s do it. Let’s get it done.’ ”
Rash did just that with a two-run double down the right field line, Schalmont added an insurance run in the sixth, and Hamilton went the distance as the Sabres continued their late-season magic with a 5-2 win at Ballston Spa High School.
“We started the season really slow,” Hamilton said. “We’re coming together at the right time. We’re playing our game.”
Rash had grounded into a inning-ending 6-4-3 double play in his previous at-bat in the third inning after Hamilton’s bloop single had filled the sacks.
“He didn’t put his head down at all,” Hamilton said of Rash, who was batting fourth in the lineup. “He let it go. We were telling him, ‘You’re going to get another at-bat.’ They put me on, and he came up clutch.”
Schalmont (18-7) answered Plattsburgh (Section VII, 14-7) runs in the first and fourth innings before Rash delivered with his opposite-field double, providing the key blow in the Sabres’ sixth playoff win and ninth consecutive victory overall.
Schalmont came from the No. 6 seed to win the Section II Class BB tournament, and earned its third state tournament berth in four years by getting past Hoosic Valley in the Class B-BB playoff.
“We haven’t been down much in the playoffs, or even in the last few weeks of the regular season,” second-year Schalmont coach Chris Teta said. “They fought today, and it was good to see that. That shows a lot about them. They fight. They grind.”
Though Hamilton gave up only three singles and allowed one hit after the first, he walked four and hit three Plattsburgh batters.
Two of those hit batsmen and a walk came in the second when the senior lefty escaped a bases-loaded threat with a groundout. Plattsburgh scored its second run on a bases-loaded walk, Hamilton’s second walk of the fourth inning — a frame that included an error, a wild pitch and a hit batter.
“I tried to come in and do my job,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton threw 138 pitches in the Sabres’ first state tournament win since they claimed the New York championship in 2014. He struck out eight.
“He gutted through,” Teta said of the Stony Brook-bound pitcher and outfielder. “If it’s another game he’s out 30, 40 pitches ago. If I went out there he would have said, ‘Don’t even bother.’ ”
Hamilton hit an RBI double in the first to go with his single in the third, and was intentionally walked a second time in the sixth to fill the bases, though Plattsburgh reliever Mitch Senecal escaped that threat by getting Rash to fly out.
“The two times we walked him [Hamilton], it was the smartest thing to do,” Bechard, a junior, said. “No regrets. I’m proud of the way we played today.”
Kyle Hirsch singled to right with two down in the Schalmont fifth, and moved to second base when right fielder Brady Pennington fired the ball past first base in an attempt to nail Hirsch. Hamilton was then walked, and Rash took an outside pitch the other way, lining Bechard’s offering just inside first base and down the line.
“I wanted to redeem myself,” Rash said. “I was like, ‘Here we go.’ It was a curve or a change-up, and I put the bat on the ball.”
Teta said Rash had been struggling in the cage in the days leading up to the regional semifinal game.
“No better way to break out than with a couple of nice RBIs,” Teta said.
Jake Defayette tripled in the Schalmont fourth and scored on Brandon LaRue’s sacrifice fly, and Alex Schlag hit an infield RBI single in the sixth.
Bechard led off the game with a single, stole second, and scored on a single by Ben Champagne. Champagne had the Hornets’ other hit, a single to start the third, and their other RBI on a bases loaded walk in the fourth.
Bechard tried to pad Plattsburgh’s 2-1 lead after Champagne’s walk on a steal of home, but catcher Tony Silvestri applied the tag to end the inning.
Schalmont will return to Ballston Spa for a regional final Saturday at 1 against Ogdensburg Free Academy (Section X, 10-8). Ogdensburg beat Gouverneur 2-1 in eight innings for its fifth straight Section X title.
Plattsburgh 100 100 0 — 2 3 1
Schalmont 100 121 x — 5 9 1
Bechard, Senecal (6) and Bell; Hamilton and Silvestri.
QUEENSBURY ROLLS ON
GLENS FALLS — Queensbury sent 12 batters to the plate in a six-run first inning, and the Spartans cruised past Massena 16-0 in a Class A sub-regional game Thursday at East Field.
The state’s No. 1-ranked team (24-0) had seven players with multiple hits, including Eric Wettersten, who went 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Ryan Flansburg pitched a three-hitter with 12 strikeouts and a walk in running his record to 6-0.
Aaron Cook went 3-for-4 with an RBI, Matt Zita went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, and Graham Wettersten went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI as part of the Spartans’ offensive assault.
Brett Rodriguez, Justin Troelstra and Pat Conway each contributed two hits. Rodriguez’ single and stolen base, and Eric Wettersten’s RBI single, kick-started Queensbury’s first-inning outburst.
Queensbury also piled up seven runs in the fifth inning.
Massena (Section X, 11-9) managed three singles, by Pat Manning, Drew McMahon and Merrick Traska, and did not have a runner advance beyond second base.
Queensbury, a state finalist in 2015, will meet CBA of Syracuse (Section III, 12-11) Saturday at 1 at East Field in a regional championship game.
Massena 000 000 0 — 0 3 3
Queensbury 603 070 x — 16 16 0
Pitchers and catchers unavailable.