BINGHAMTON — Different guys stepped up this time, and Ballston Spa’s baseball season ended in a way different than any had before.
Chance Checca homered in the first inning, Donovan Rhoden and Jayden Williamson collected clutch hits in the second and the Scotties were on their way to a 13-6 win over Maine-Endwell in the state Class A championship game Saturday morning at Binghamton University.
“That’s why we’re here,” said Rhoden, the Scotties’ senior first baseman. “One through nine can do damage. We have no holes.”
A day after Luke Gold and Jake Manderson combined for three home runs in a 10-0 semifinal win over Sayville, a handful of others carried the offensive load in Ballston Spa’s first state title-game victory. Before this season, Ballston Spa had not even advanced beyond Section II.
“It’s nuts,” said Checca, a sophomore third baseman who homered for the third time in the postseason to spark a three-run opening inning. “First sectional title in over 40 years. First state title. It’s awesome.”
Ballston Spa (24-2) put on another awesome offensive display, with those three runs in the first, and after Maine-Endwell got two back, with five more in the second.
The Scotties later increased their lead to 10-2 and 13-5.
“Super, super proud of these guys,” Ballston Spa coach Curtis Nobles said after his team completed a seven-game run through the playoffs. “This is something we dreamed about in July, put into action in August and it manifested here.
“These kids deserve this. They deserve it because of their character, their self discipline and their unbelievable love for one another.”
Ballston Spa made the most out of six hits, seven walks and two hit batters, and four errors committed by Maine-Endwell (Section IV, 15-5). Michael Poirier got the win, gutting out 6 1/3 innings before leaving with a 13-5 lead, before fellow senior Nick Reed finished off a combined nine-hitter.
Manderson spun a two-hitter Friday and hit a home run that ended the semifinal game in the sixth inning .
“Pretty much every game, we’ve got a new hero,” said Gold, a senior shortstop who hit a pair of two-run homers Friday. “We have strength throughout our lineup.”
Evan Fox walked to start the game, and, with one down, stole second, took third on an error and scored on a wild pitch by M-E starter Rylie VanFleet. Rhoden drew a two-out walk, and Checca deposited the first pitch he saw over the left-field fence.
“We wanted to set the tone,” Checca said. “We wanted to show them we were not going to go down easy.”
Maine-Endwell reliever Joseph Mancini hit Anthony DeVizzio and Poirier with pitches to begin the third, both runners moved up on a flyball out and Gold was intentionally walked to load the bases. Manderson walked to bring a run home, Rhoden followed with a two-run double, and an out later, Williamson cracked a two-run single to make it 8-2.
“We wanted to put a big number up,” Rhoden said. “We wanted to control the energy of the game.”
Manderson scored on a balk, and Rhoden scored on a wild pitch in the fourth. Rhoden tripled in the seventh and raced home on a single by Coleman Hinman. Two more runs came in on errors.
“We took advantage of their mistakes,” Checca said. “A lot of the game was, ‘Get on and pass it on to the next batter. Keep the line going.'”
“This is a team game,” Nobles said.
Ballston Spa opened its postseason with a 9-8, eight-inning win over Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake before beating Queensbury (4-0) and Averill Park (9-3) for its first Section II title since 1973. Regional wins over Massena (10-0) and Whitesboro (4-2) followed. Rhoden had the key blow against Whitesboro, a go-ahead, two-run homer.
“I am super excited for Ballston Spa. I’m super excited for our community and our school,” Nobles said. “We’re going to party tonight.”
Ballston Spa had a large group of supporters crammed in the bleacher section to urge their baseball team on. Some were monitoring the progress of the school’s softball team as it played a 20-inning state semifinal marathon at the same time at Moreau Recreational Park.
“The whole town is here,” Nobles said. “Those who aren’t are in Glens Falls.”
HORSES DROP FINAL
Schuylerville’s fabulous postseason run ended with an 11-1, six-inning loss to Center Moriches in the state Class B title game at Binghamton University.
Schuylerville (18-8) knocked off Medina Friday 6-3 to earn a spot in its first New York state championship game.
“To make Schuylerville history is something to be proud of,” said Paul Harshbarger, one of only three seniors on the Black Horses’ roster. “A lot of people are going to think about this team and think great things.”
Center Moriches (Section XI, 26-0) jumped quickly in winning its second straight championship. Alex Maag hit a three-run home run in the first, and the Red Devils were up 6-0 after three.
“I don’t think we knew what we were up against until we got here,” Harshbarger said of the talent displaced by the state’s No. 1-ranked team.
Colton Weatherwax had one of Schuylerville’s two hits and scored the Black Horses’ lone run on a fourth-inning error. Weatherwax had a key three-run double in the state semifinal win.
“We executed well yesterday and got a big hit,” Schuylerville coach Darrin Renner said. “Today wasn’t our day, but I am very proud of this team and what they accomplished.”
Whitehall completed a dominant run through the playoffs with a 12-1, five-inning win over Brocton (Section VI, 11-8) in the state Class D final at Union-Endicott High School.
The Railroaders (17-2) outscored their postseason foes 57-5 in earning the program’s first state title since 1984. Austin Barnao was the hitting star Saturday, going 4 for 4 with six RBIs.
BALLSTON SPA 13, MAINE-ENDWELL 6
Ballston Spa 350 200 3 — 13 6 0
Maine-Endwell 200 030 1 — 6 9 4
CENTER MORICHES 11, SCHUYLERVILLE 1
Center Moriches 303 104 — 11 14 1
Schuylerville 000 100 — 1 2 3
WHITEHALL 12, BROCTON 1
Whitehall 332 04 — 12 9 0
Brocton 100 00 — 1 3 5