MECHANICVILLE — There was still a long way to go, but veteran Fonda-Fultonville baseball coach Rick Palumbo liked his Braves’ chances a whole lot more after they put up two runs in the first inning of Friday’s Section II Class B quarterfinal game at Mechanicville.
“I feel very, very confident with a two- or three-run lead with him on the mound,” Palumbo said of his staff ace, senior Derek Duval. “Even a one-run lead.”
Duval gave one of those runs back in the bottom of the first inning but blanked Mechanicville over the next four, and Fonda-Fultonville got offensive contributions throughout its lineup in a 10-1 win over the Wasaren League champions.
Tyler Daus pitched a pair of hitless innings in relief after Duval’s two-hit effort, and Jackson Croucher and Daus both collected a triple, double and single in the Braves’ second tournament win.
The No. 7-seeded Braves (19-1) beat No. 10 Hudson 3-1 in a first-round game Wednesday when Duval hurled the final four innings and picked up the win in relief of Croucher.
“He’s their No. 1. We saw the Hudson game, and he didn’t throw that many pitches, so we knew we’d see him,” Mechanicville coach Scott Kraszewski said of the Post University-bound Duval, who struck out 10 Wednesday and 11 more Friday. “Their kid was tough today. We’ve been hitting fastballs, but today, we didn’t hit. It was not our day.”
Ryan Grimmick got the only significant hit off Duval, a one-out, solo home run to deep left in the first inning that made it 2-1. Second-seeded Mechanicville (14-3) got its only other hit in the second frame when Joe DeVito reached on a two-out infield single, and was subsequently picked off by Duval.
“I hung a curve, and he [Grimmick] got it in the wind,” Duval said. “That got me a little angry. I started to throw my fastball more.”
Duval struck out the side two times and issued two walks, both coming in the fifth back-to-back, before he got two fly balls to complete his successful stint. Daus’ appearance began with Fonda-Fultonville’s second error before the senior retired six in a row with four strikeouts.
Earlier this season, Duval went the first six innings before Daus finished off a no-hitter against Cobleskill-Richmondville.
“The thing with Tyler Daus is he’s a really good closer,” Palumbo said of the Dominican University commit. “He can smell the end.”
The beginning was good for the Braves, too, with Croucher hitting a one-out double in the first and Daus following with a single off Mechanicville starter Zachary Pingelski. With two down, Zenmatsu Myles stroked a two-run single to left.
“I thought that set the tone for the game,” Palumbo said. “That put us in a position where we believed we could win.”
“That got the energy going in the dugout,” Duval said. “That was huge to score early against a great team like that.”
Croucher and Daus also kick-started a four-run third inning with an infield single followed by an RBI double that made it 3-1. The Braves got another run home on a wild pitch and two more on a double by William Hernigle.
“They hit the ball today,” Kraszewski said.
Fonda-Fultonville scored single runs in the fourth and fifth and two more in the sixth in a game that saw six different Braves notch at least one base hit.
Croucher scored three runs to go with his three hits, and Daus stole two bases and reached four times. Hernigle finished with three hits and three RBIs, and Zenmatsu had two hits and three RBIs.
“We’ve probably spent more time on hitting than anything else this year,” Palumbo said. “We knew our pitching and defense was good. We’ve really worked hard on the hitting.”
Pingelski and Grimmick, who came on in the fourth, allowed a combined 13 hits and struck out 11. Both pitchers walked one.
Fonda-Fultonville will play No. 3 Ichabod Crane (14-6) Monday in a Class B semifinal at Dutchmen Park in Guilderland. Ichabod Crane edged No. 11 Coxsackie-Athens 3-2 in nine innings Friday.
“I thought coming in, we were capable of beating anybody, but at the same time, anybody could beat us,” said Palumbo, who guided the Braves to their last Section II title in 2014. “You’ve got to play well to win tournament games.”
Fonda-Fultonville 204 112 0 — 10 13 2
Mechanicville 100 000 0 — 1 2 2