BROADALBIN — Desperate to extend his high school baseball career a few more days, Ryan Visco launched a walk-off home run in Saturday’s semifinal contest.
In the bottom of the seventh inning of Tuesday’s tied Section II Class B championship game against Ichabod Crane, the Broadalbin-Perth senior wanted to make sure his at-bat was his last — and one that ended a long drought for the Patriots.
“Anything to get him home,” Visco said of his mindset for the at-bat, which came with classmate Ryan Hertik on third base with one out. “Didn’t matter if it was another home run or a pop-out to center — as long as he scored, I didn’t care.”
And Visco, with a full count and after fouling off several pitches, delivered a game-winning RBI hit that sent his team and its supporters into a celebration several decades in the making. Visco’s hard-hit single past a diving infielder scored Hertik to deliver Broadalbin-Perth a walk-off 6-5 win and the program’s first-ever Section II championship.
“I needed to get that run across to end the game,” Visco said.
The game’s final at-bat, the last before Broadalbin-Perth celebrated its first area baseball championship since the Broadalbin and Perth school districts merged into one district prior to the 1987-88 school year, included a dozen pitches. Visco faced an 0-2 count after the first two pitches, but worked the count full — and worked to find a pitch he could drive. He fouled off a few pitches that appeared out of the strike zone, but Broadalbin-Perth head coach RJ Pingitore understood Visco was leaving that batter’s box with a walk-off, not a walk.
“You knew that he wanted to win it. He’s led this group all the way through,” said Pingitore, a 2012 Broadalbin-Perth graduate who began coaching his alma mater’s baseball team in 2017. “He wasn’t going to walk. If they threw that ball in the dirt, he was still going to foul it off. It was just one of those at-bats.”
While Ichabod Crane has won a dozen Section II championships in its program history, the Broadalbin-Perth baseball program had never won a Section II title before Tuesday’s win. Prior to the merger of the Broadalbin and Perth school districts, Broadalbin had won a pair of area championships, and Perth had won six.
Tuesday’s win was the final game of the season for Broadalbin-Perth, as the New York State Public High School Athletic Association didn’t sponsor state tournaments in any sports this academic year because of concerns related to the novel coronavirus pandemic. This spring’s area championships were the first formal Section II tournaments since the 2019-20 winter season.
In the championship win, Visco had three hits, while junior Michael Magliocca and senior Jake Terwilliger each had two RBIs. With 1 1/3 innings of relief pitching, sophomore Ryan Savoie picked up the win for Broadalbin-Perth, which started Magliocca on the mound.
“Words can’t describe this,” Terwilliger said after the championship win. “This is amazing.”
Ichabod Crane sophomore pitcher Nate Garafalo took the loss after striking out seven in 6 1/3 innings. The tremendous battle between Visco and Garafalo ended what turned into a classic championship matchup after Broadalbin-Perth (No. 2, 16-6) appeared ready to coast past Ichabod Crane (No. 5, 11-5) for the victory. Magliocca and Terwilliger had RBI hits in the first inning, and junior Luke Tambasco and Terwilliger added solo home runs in the fourth to put Broadalbin-Perth ahead 4-0.
Ichabod Crane registered a run in the fifth inning on an RBI hit from junior Satchel Baumgartner, but Broadalbin-Perth answered with an RBI sacrifice fly from Magliocca in the bottom half of the inning.
That seemed like it would be enough for Broadalbin-Perth, especially with the way Magliocca was pitching in just his second start of the season. Magliocca made his season’s first start in the quarterfinals, and struck out 10 batters in a shutout win that day. In Tuesday’s championship game, Magliocca mostly breezed through the first five innings, but Ichabod Crane was able to score two runs in the sixth on hits from Garafalo and senior Justice Suafoa before Magliocca was lifted in favor of sophomore teammate Ryan Savoie.
“My mentality was just to go out there and throw strikes, and try not to walk too many batters because that’s how you get into a bad situation,” said Magliocca, who struck out seven, and allowed eight hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings that saw him allow two earned runs.
Savoie entered the sixth inning with the potential tying run at the plate, but was able to get out of the inning with Broadalbin-Perth’s two-run lead intact. In the seventh, though, Ichabod Crane junior Connor Bailey led off the inning with a home run, and Ichabod Crane junior Topher Pelesz later connected for a two-out RBI single to tie the game at 5-5 before Savoie got out of the inning.
Before the home half of the inning, Pingitore kept his message simple: “Get on base and let’s win this thing.”
Hertik doubled to start the bottom of the seventh, then was able to move to third base during junior Luke Barnhart’s at-bat on a pitch that headed to the backstop.
After Barnhart struck out, Visco came to the plate.
“One of the best competitors I’ve ever coached,” Pingitore said. “I just knew that we played our cards right and got him back up to the plate, good things were going to happen.”
“We knew that big hit was going to come from Ryan,” Terwilliger said.
Visco started celebrating on the run to first base, and his teammates weren’t far behind him, as a dogpile of Patriots formed near first base. A few minutes later, after a first-ever Section II championship plaque had been awarded to a Broadalbin-Perth baseball team, Pingitore held it up as he addressed his players.
“It’s not easy to win one of these,” Pingitore said.
Ichabod Crane 000 012 2 — 5 10 0
Broadalbin-Perth 202 010 1 — 6 8 2