A junior got the biggest hit and another one scored the winning run, which enabled the 12 seniors on the Shenendehowa baseball team to walk off the field for the last time together as state champions.
“That’s just a story in itself about how this group wouldn’t stop,” Shenendehowa coach Greg Christodulu said after his team’s 7-6 comeback win against Webster Schroeder in Saturday’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class AA final at Binghamton University. “They were relentless.”
A regional finalist in 2013 and the 2014 state runner-up, Shenendehowa beat West Islip 3-0 Saturday before rallying for three runs in the seventh inning to stun Webster
Junior Joe Palko had the last hit of the season, an RBI single that brought home 11th-grader Kyle Douglas, who had come on to pinch run.
“Obviously, we thought we were going to win,” Shenendehowa senior Nik Malachowski said of entering the seventh inning trailing by two. “It’s always in the back of your mind that you’re going to get the walk-off win. But there was some doubt when you’re down two runs in the seventh inning. But with our team, our resilience, when we got that first hit we knew it was possible.”
Richard Drum started Shenendehowa’s seventh with a triple and scored on Ben Anderson’s single. Frank Pizzo followed with a single and, after two fly outs, Nick Jacques hit an RBI single.
Palko then delivered his clutch hit.
“That’s a moment he’ll never forget,” Drum said.
Palko hit into a double play in the sixth which enabled Kevin Huerter to score and get the Plainsmen within 6-4.
John Cady was the pitching star with five innings of shutout relief, after Ian Anderson blanked West Islip and Mike Jeffers plated two runs in the semifinal.
“It’s still processing,” Drum, one of the dozen seniors, said Tuesday. “I still can’t really believe it. It just ended so perfectly.”
Dramatic, but not unprecedented.
Here’s a few other Section II teams that won state titles in fantastic finishes:
Izaiah Brown was 15 meters behind the leader and in the middle of the pack when he got the baton for the anchor leg of Amsterdam’s 4×400 relay in the Federation portion of the 2014 state track and field championships at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
The junior proceeded to clock a 46.08 in a come-from-behind burst that led the Rams to the title. The Rams, with Andrew Druziak, David Graveley and Julian Gallup setting up Brown, combined for a 3:17.87 after their fourth-place 3:20.25 in the event the day before.
Shenendehowa senior Anna Bottino stayed calm when Sachem East goalkeeper Desteny Holder blocked her initial drive in the one-on-one overtime shootout at the tail end of the 2013 state Class A field hockey championship game at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
Bottino collected the rebound and fired over her sprawled opponent for the game-winning goal as the Lady Plainsmen prevailed 3-2. Shenendehowa rallied from a 2-0 halftime deficit, with Bottino assisting on both goals, before the All-American went last in what was then a scoreless shootout.
Shenendehowa ended Sachem East’s two-year grip on the championship and became Section II’s first Class A New York titlist since Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in 1987.
Shayne Bishop never stopped running, and with his slide into home plate in the last of the seventh inning he lifted Stillwater to the 1998 state Class C baseball championship at Murnane Field in Utica.
Bishop drew a one-out walk and Nick Esopi followed with a ground ball to third base. A high throw for an error set Bishop loose and his sprint and run gave the Warriors a 3-2 victory in a game they trailed 2-0 entering the sixth inning.
Esopi pitched five innings of no-hit ball to get the win for the 27-1 Warriors.
SHOT HEARD ’rouND NY
Joel Wincowski’s Twitter handle is @Wincowski4theW, and that’s just what the Lake George senior did in the 2015 state Class C title game at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Section II’s career scoring leader nailed a three-point basket with 1.6 seconds left to give Lake George a pulsating 53-50 win over Haldane and its second New York banner in three years. The shot mirrored Jimmy Chitwood’s in “Hoosiers,” right down to the dribble and hoist over an outstretched defender’s hand.
MONTES LIFTS RAMS
Section II’s first state champion football team got a big effort from Alvaro Montes, the same Amsterdam junior who missed an extra point earlier in the 1995 Class B final against Lake Shore.
Two plays after a 36-yard pass from Chris Covell to Vic Colon, Montes kicked a 23-yard field goal with five seconds left to propel the Rugged Rams to a dramatic win at the Syracuse Carrier Dome.
Amsterdam went 11-2 that season, the last for coach Frank Derrico. His successor, Pat Liverio, guided Amsterdam to a second state flag in 2005.
SPARTANS CAN DIG IT
Of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s six state volleyball championships, the Spartans 2005 title was by far the most difficult to attain as they climbed back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Canandaigua at SUNY Oneonta.
Though Sarah Morton collected 23 kills and seven blocks, and Jackie Gillespie record 37 assists, it was a collective effort in the match that ended with Burnt Hills taking the last three sets 25-18, 25-20, 25-21 to complete a 29-0 campaign.
Burnt Hills also had to climb out of a 2-1 hole to snare the 2004 state championship against Hendrick Hudson.