TROY — When Ethan Nardacci stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the first inning of Friday’s Section II Class A baseball championship game, the Averill Park sophomore saw just how shallow the Mohonasen outfield was playing.
“I’m not really normally a power hitter,” Nardacci said. “I’ve been more of a contact guy this year.”
So, when Nardacci got a pitch he liked, he simply drove it over everyone’s heads for an early three-run double that put Averill Park in business.
“They typically do [play shallow],” Averill Park coach George Brooks said of Mohonasen’s defense. “They try to take those [short hits] away. He took a fastball high and drove it, man.”
Mohonasen fired back and took the lead by the end of the third inning, but Averill Park took it back in the top of the fourth and Nardacci — who hadn’t pitched since May 11 — made it stand up with a complete game to earn a 5-4 victory at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium and secure Averill Park’s first Section II baseball title since 2014.
Averill Park will head to the state tournament to face a Section III opponent in the regional semifinals on Thursday at a Section III site.
After Mohonasen (No. 3 seed, 18-4 overall) had taken a 4-3 lead with two runs each in the second and third, Averill Park (No. 5, 17-6) took it back in the top of the fourth as Mike Wormuth led off the inning with a single, then scored on Nicholas Galuski’s game-tying RBI triple past a diving Marvin Hill in left field. Alex Yash’s groundout to short brought in Galuski with the go-ahead run.
From that point on, it was up to Nardacci, who allowed just three baserunners over the final four innings. One of those was caught stealing by Averill Park catcher Steve Koval, one was erased on a 5-4-3 double play that ended the sixth inning, and the last was a two-out single by Mohonasen’s Vince Carollo in the seventh, but that threat ended when Michael Gage popped out to first to end the game.
“He’s been dealing for us on the mound all year,” Brooks said of Nardacci. “We knew giving him a chance to go out here today, he could perform for us.”
Nardacci scattered six hits in his complete-game win, striking out six and walking three.
“Before this, I had an elbow problem I’d been battling,” Nardacci said. “This was the one game I wanted to come out here. I did better than I thought I would.”
Mohonasen had come back from early deficits in both its quarterfinal win over La Salle Institute and its semifinal victory against Troy, and once again erased an early hole Friday.
A two-run single by Dom DePiero got Mohonasen on the board in the second inning, and the Mighty Warriors took the lead an inning later when Hill connected for an RBI single and Anthony Fasolino followed with a two-run double.
“They’re gritty,” Mohonasen coach Kevin Sheremeta said. “They don’t give up. They love to compete, they live for it.”
However, once Averill Park took the lead back in the fourth, Mohonasen found its supply of comeback magic exhausted.
“We never kept the momentum,” Sheremeta said. “They’re a good baseball team, and they executed everything they tried to do. A couple things we tried to execute failed. The kids played hard, we left everything on the field and I couldn’t be more proud of the group this year.
“Coming back is not something new for them, but we just fell short. The game ended a couple innings too short for us. It happens.”
For Averill Park, the win was a validation of a season of ups-and-downs playing tough competition in the Suburban Council.
“Suburban Council baseball, it’s a battle day in and day out,” Brooks said. “We’re battle-tested. . . . They were molded for this day.”
Averill Park 300 200 0 — 5 7 0
Mohonasen 022 000 0 — 4 6 1