TROY — Ballston Spa was in a good spot when Chance Checca stepped to the plate in the sixth inning of Saturday night’s Section II Class A baseball championship game with Averill Park at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.
A long hit and sprint later, and the Scotties were on their way to ending a title drought that stretched back to 1973.
Checca legged out a three-run triple and scored on a groundout to give Ballston Spa a 9-3 lead that Jake Manderson preserved, and the Scotties were finally on top again.
“Forty-seven years,” Checca, a sophomore third baseman, said after collecting two hits and driving in four runs. “Amazing.”
Cole Hinman and Anthony DeVizzo had RBI doubles before Checca’s big blow, and Manderson retired the final seven batters he faced as Ballston Spa (20-2) got over the top a year after bowing to Columbia in the area Class AA title game on the same Joseph L. Bruno Stadium field.
“Since July,” Ballston Spa coach Curtis Nobles said amid the post-game celebration. “I gave them June off because that was such a heartbreak, and from July to now they’ve worked and worked. This is the by-product.”
Manderson struck out the side in the sixth and got three pop outs in the seventh for the tournament’s top-seeded team (20-2).
“Throughout the playoffs, everybody has contributed,” Manderson said.”Everybody has a role. We all did it, and we came out on top.”
Checca’s long drive to right field all but clinched it. A walk, a double by Donovan Rhoden and another walk set the stage for Checca, who, after his bases-clearing drive, scored on a Jayden Williamson groundout.
“I knew he [Averill Park reliever Wes Doscher] was going to throw a knuckleball, and I got a hold of it,” Checca said. “Jake came in and shut the door.”
Ballston Spa knocked Averill Park starter Anthony Childrose out of the game in the third when Rhoden doubled and Checca singled him to third. Doscher got a popout before Rhoden scored on a wild pitch, and Hinman and DeVizzo followed with RBI doubles to make it 5-0.
Checca had a run-scoring sacrifice fly in the first, and Hinman walked to start the second and scored on a wild pitch.
Averill Park’s Ethan Simard lofted a two-run single down the third-base line in the fourth inning, and Ian Zieske hit a ground-rule RBI double in the fifth.
DeVizzo turned in the game’s highlight defensive play in center field in the fourth inning, after Simard’s two-run single and a walk loaded the bases, when he charged in hard and snagged a sinking liner off Ben Romer’s bat. Ballston Spa starter Mike Poirier got a groundout to end the inning, but walked two to begin the fifth before Manderson came on in relief.
“I was thinking I ‘ve gotta make the play for my pitcher,” said DeVizzo.
Manderson got a flyout, got an out on a baserunning interference call, and gave up Zieske’s RBI double, and then got a popout to end the fifth and begin his closing string of outs. He joined with Poirier on a four-hitter. Poirier hurt himself with six walks.
“He [Poirier] started to tire a little bit,” Manderson said. “I came in here to do my job.”
Nobles was pleased that so many players contributed to the breakthrough victory.
“When I first came here my goal was to create an environment for everyone to thrive in,” he said.
Ballston Spa will take on Section X’s Massena Thursday at 5 p.m. in a sub-regional game at Salmon River High School.
“We’re not done yet,” Nobles said.
Averill Park, the No. 2 seed, ended its season at 11-10. The Warriors last won a Section II title in 2014.
Averill Park 000 210 0 — 3 4 1
Ballston Spa 113 004 x — 9 7 0