TROY — La Salle starter Eddie Girtler spotted his fastball for six innings Thursday afternoon, leading the Cadets to a 5-3 Section II Class A quarterfinal win against Amsterdam.
Girtler allowed three runs on three hits and struck out 15 batters in his six innings of work. He was lifted after reaching the 125-pitch playoff maximum.
“The fastball was definitely my go-to; I really couldn’t find my slider today,” Girtler said. “I felt as if I was spotting it pretty well and that definitely helped out a lot.”
He struck out 13 batters in the first four innings; Amsterdam’s Ryan Reagan reached base on a dropped third strike in the second inning that saw Girtler strike out four.
The Amsterdam lineup’s second look at Girtler proved fruitful as the La Salle starter gave up three runs in the fifth inning. Andrew Spagnola and CJ Durinick walked, then scored when Tommy Ziskin belted a two-run triple to left center. Ziskin scored on Spencer Cotugno’s sacrifice fly to right field, cutting the Cadet lead to 4-3.
“The second time we see [an opposing pitcher], we’re different hitters,” Amsterdam coach Rob Hisert said. “We make those adjustments; we see the guy and start learning the [strike] zone a little bit, know when and where to attack.”
Hisert’s pitching plan included starting senior Carson Cotugno, a Wake Forest commit, for the Rams, a move not lost on La Salle coach Jesse Braverman.
“I got to meet Carson in an Empire State Prospect game at Shuttleworth when he was in ninth grade,” Braverman said. “It was mainly for juniors, and he was the first pitcher I put on the mound. He was better than the juniors then as a ninth grader.
“It took everything we had to outscore them with him on the mound. I have a lot of respect for him. He’s a very talented and full-of-heart pitcher.”
Cotugno went six innings, allowing five runs on seven hits. He struck out five batters and walked four.
“Even with the runs they scored, nothing really seemed to get hit hard,” Hisert said. “They got a couple balls off the end of the bat or off the handle and they fell — and ours didn’t. For [Cotugno], he’s been playing with these guys for a long time, and he knows what he’s got behind him and he’s confident in them.”
The season-ending loss for Amsterdam halted a 12-game winning streak. Amsterdam lost its first two games of the season, then won the rest of its games before Thursday’s defeat. Hisert said the Rams knew some outsiders viewed this season as a “rebuilding year” for the program, but the coach said his group knew different.
“That’s something that we took personally,” Hisert said, “and we wanted to show them that we’re a playoff team and we’re going to compete.”
La Salle, which is 12-2 on the season, will face Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Saturday in the Class A semifinals.
Amsterdam 000 300 0 — 3 3 1
La Salle 001 301 X — 5 7 2