Ballston Spa denies Shenendehowa another baseball final

Scotties top Plainsmen 11-1 in AA semifinal
After beating Shenendehowa 11-1 Thursday at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, Ballston Spa will face Columbia for the Class AA title.
After beating Shenendehowa 11-1 Thursday at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, Ballston Spa will face Columbia for the Class AA title.

TROY — Ballston Spa catcher Jake Manderson didn’t have much success at the plate in a game against Shenendehowa earlier this month. He wasn’t the only one on a day the Scotties’ entire lineup went without a base hit.

Round 2 was a much different story.

Manderson homered twice and knocked in six runs, gutsy Luke Gold was the benefactor, and Ballston Spa defeated Shenendehowa 11-1 in a Section II Class AA semifinal game Thursday night at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.

“I throw him BP and he drills it all over the place,” Ballston Spa coach Curtis Nobles said of Manderson, the Scotties’ No. 3 hitter. “I asked him to bring some of that today.”

Manderson’s hits produced more runs as the game progressed, with the junior cracking an RBI single in the first before launching a two-run home run in the third and a three-run blast in the sixth. He went 0-for-1 with two walks when Brendan Disonell threw a no-hitter in Shenendehowa’s 5-0 win against Ballston Spa on May 9.

“This feels a lot better,” said Manderson after giving Ballston Spa a chance to win its first Section II title since 1973. “It feels great to homer twice here and knock off the No. 1 seed.”

Shenendehowa had won a semifinal game in each of the last six years, and had followed up with three Section II titles, in 2013, 2014 and 2016, when the Plainsmen went on to claim the school’s first state flag.

“That’s a class A team, and I’m not talking about the section,” Nobles said of Shenendehowa. “That’s a class program. A championship program. To knock them off feels awfully good.”

Ballston Spa (No. 5 seed, 16-6)  and Columbia (No. 7, 14-5)  will meet in the Class AA title game Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Joe Bruno Stadium. Columbia beat Colonie 14-4 in a earlier in a semifinal halted after five innings due to the new state and Section II-approved mercy rule.

“They swing the bats,” Gold said of meeting Columbia in the final. “It could be a slugfest.”

Ballston Spa piled up 13 hits, with Manderson leading the way. Gold had homered twice in Ballston Spa’s 13-4 win over Saratoga Springs Wednesday.

“We’re having a hero every game, and getting awesome contributions,” Gold said.

Evan Fox ended any hopes for a repeat pitching gem by the Plainsmen with a game-starting single, and, after a walk,  Manderson and Donovan Rhoden connected for RBI singles off Shenendehowa starter Mitch Wright.

“We knew we had to strike early and tack on,” Nobles said. “You can’t sit on a team like Shenendehowa.”

Ballston Spa chased Wright in the third after collecting four more hits, including Manderson’s two-run shot over the left field fence.

“He kept repeating first-pitch curveball,” Manderson said. “I had to swing at it.”

Later in the third, Rick Miller made it 6-0 with a two-run double just out of the reach of diving right fielder Brendan Spulnick, and wild pitch by Plainsmen reliever Brandon Roberts upped the Scotties’ advantage to 7-0.

Two walks set up Manderson’s second homer, another drive over the left field fence that made it 10-1.

“We’ve been on the other end many times,” Shenendehowa coach Greg Christodulu said. “We happened to be outplayed. They defended. They pitched. They swung the bats.”

Shenendehowa (No. 1, 14-7) loaded the bases in the home third against Gold when Griff Wallner and Zach Goldberg sandwiched singles around a walk. Joe Novenche brought a run home on a fielder’s choice grounder.  Gold then turned Spulnick’s grounder into a 1-6-3 double play.

Ballston Spa turned two more double plays in the fifth and seventh to back Gold.

“That was my first start of the year,” said Gold, normally a reliever, who scattered five singles, fanned five and walked three. “They’re a good hitting team. I was trying to pitch to contact and use my defense.”

Christodulu admired Gold for his gritty work. Gold appeared fatigued in the later innings but continued to manufacture outs.

“Our hats are off to Luke Gold,” Christodulu said. “He’s a jump-on-my-back guy. He did a great job.”

Goldberg had two hits for Shenendehowa.


Columbia sent 12 batters to the plate in a six-run second inning, and Justin Pangburn launched a two-run home run in the third as the Blue Devils eliminated Colonie (No. 3, 15-5) in the first semifinal.

Steve Blydenburgh ripped a two-run double and Matt LaHara stroked a two-run single in the Columbia second. Carm Erno and Jack Hernandez added RBI singles in a three-run fourth as the Blue Devils opened up a 11-3 lead on their way to a season split with the Garnet Raiders.

Columbia’s last title-game appearance in 2012 resulted in a 3-2, nine-inning win over Shenendehowa.


Ballston Spa 205 000 1 – 11 13 2

Shenendehowa 001 000 0 – 1 5 0

Gold and Manderson; Wright, Roberts (3), Farley (7) and Aiello.


Columbia 062 33 – 14 10 3

Colonie 102 01 – 4 6 1

Erno, Ostiguy (4), Nista (4) and Premo; Lambert, Wall (2), Toms (3) and Hutton.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.

Categories: High School Sports, Sports

Leave a Reply