Schalmont had hope when Tony Silversti legged out a triple in the seventh inning and scored on Anthony Pasquarella’s fielder’s choice groundout.
When Alex Schlag and Kyle Hirsch followed with two-out walks, the Sabres had a little more.
“Ever since the beginning of the season we haven’t been a team to hang our heads,” junior Jake Defayette, one of Schalmont’s captains, said. “At the end, that’s the fight in us you saw.”
Schalmont, though, never got a chance at one last swing.
Fredonia reliever Lucas Voss picked Schlag off second base before throwing a pitch in Chris Hamilton’s direction, ending Saturday’s state Class B semifinal game in the cruelest way as the Hillbillies held on for a 4-2 victory at Maine-Endwell High School.
“We gave it everything we had,” Hamilton, one of Schalmont’s seven seniors and its leading source of power, said. “It didn’t bounce our way this time.”
For over a month everything had gone Schalmont’s way, with a 10-game win streak during that stretch pushing the Sabres to the brink of a second state championship in three years. That streak included a five-game run through the Section II tournament and a pair of regional wins.
“This is something not many teams can do, get here two times in three years,” Schalmont coach Chris Teta said. “Of course we’d like to have won. We’ll swallow it. That’s baseball.”
Schalmont (19-8) reverted back to its early-season form when it was struggling to stay over .500.
“Fredonia is a great team,” Defayette said. “We made too many mistakes.”
Two Sabres were thrown out trying to steal and another was gunned down attempting to stretch a single into a double. An error and a passed ball in the home sixth inning allowed Fredonia to add two runs after Ryan Mroczka’s RBI double broke a 1-1 tie.
In all, the Sabres committed three errors.
“That last inning [Fredonia’s sixth] they didn’t hit it hard,” Teta said. “We had a letdown on defense.”
Schalmont didn’t hit the ball hard in the top of the sixth, either, yet had a great chance for a big inning after two walks and Hamilton’s infield single filled the bases with no outs.
Matt Rash followed with a tapper toward third and Fredonia’s Reid Tarnowski fired home to Mroczka for a forceout. On the slide home Schlag made contact with Mroczka and was called for interference which resulted in Rash being out, too, and a double play.
After another walk loaded the bases again, a 6-4 forceout ended the threat.
“We don’t play dirty,’ Teta said. “We play hard. Their catcher was covering three-quarters of the plate and he [Schlag] slid into the bag. They called him out and called a double play. I just hope they made the right call.”
Schlag had given Schalmont a 1-0 lead a two-out RBI single in the third. Mroczka tied the game in the fourth on a two-out RBI single.
Hamilton had kept Fredonia off the board in both the first inning and third inning when he a recorded a strikeout with a runner on third base. Hamilton departed after the fourth and Brandon LaRue came on.
“Chris is fine,” Teta said of pulling Hamilton after four innings. “He did some great things for us and he has a bright future [at Stony Brook]. We don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that.”
LaRue walked a batter, got a forceout, and walked another batter before Mroczka doubled to deep right field to deliver the tie-breaking run.
“It started off a little rough,” Teta said of the 2016 season in which the Sabres claimed their third Section II title in four years. “We were not the team we put on the field today. It’s hard to get here, and from the halfway point to today these boys worked so hard and gave it everything they had. I’m very proud of them.”
Schalmont had lost three straight games before rattling off those 10 consecutive victories.
“What tremendous growth,” said Defayette, who with Hamilton and Schlag was a member of the 2014 state-winning team. “I’m proud to be here as one of the final four teams.”
Fredonia (Section VI, 18-7) later lost to Marlboro (Section IX, 22-2) in the Class B championship game 8-7.
Schalmont 001 000 1 — 2 5 3
Fredonia 000 103 x — 4 5 0
Hamilton, LaRue (5) and Silvestri; Burmaster, Voss (6) and Mroczka.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated.