TROY — For six innings, Duanesburg senior left-hander Peyton Fall had the defending state champion on the ropes. Fall stymied top-ranked Chatham, holding the Panthers without a hit through the first four innings.
But although the Chatham bats were held in check, the Panthers kept the pressure on the Eagles by running the bases at every opportunity. Eventually, that pressure paid off, as Chatham squeezed past Duanesburg with two runs in the bottom of the seventh for a 3-2 walk-off victory in the Section 2 Class C/CC playoff game Saturday night at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.
Trailing 2-1 in the seventh, Chatham started its rally with a line-drive double to left by Jameson Balich, who stole third and came home on the catcher’s throwing error.
Fall then walked Logan Smalley, who stole second, one of five stolen bases for the Panthers. Fall struck out Matt Radley, but then Jake Taylor blooped a single to right, scoring Smalley for the game-winning run.
“We didn’t have our best game, but we were in it until the end,” said Taylor before being doused with water by his jubilant teammates. “Jay [Balich] got that big hit, and I just tried to get the barrel on the ball. He [Fall] was slowing down at the end, and I knew we could get him. This team is great because we have heart and we no one ever gives up.”
Fall struck out 13 and allowed only four hits, but two of them were in the seventh inning. He also walked five batters, but he constantly got out of trouble either via the strikeout or an exceptional defensive play by the Eagles. Fall threw Smalley out trying to steal third in the fifth inning, and he threw Thorsen out trying to steal third in the sixth. Shortstop Shane Wetherington helped out Fall with a fabulous catch reaching over his shoulder as he ran into center field to catch a soft liner by Tate Van Alstyne.
“I was fighting my butt off. This hurts,” said Fall. “They [the Panthers] can hit 1 through 9 in their lineup. That guy [Balich] got me on a fastball in the seventh inning, but they are No. 1 in the state for a reason. Everyone expected them to win. They had everything to lose, and we had nothing to lose.”
Chatham (21-2), with most of its lineup back from last year’s championship team, features a powerful lineup that includes several players hitting between .400 and .500 on the season. The Panthers also have a ton of power, led by Thorsen’s 16 home runs.
But Fall kept Chatham off balance almost the entire game. At one point, he struck out six consecutive batters and struck out the side three times.
Duanesburg (13-7) scored both of its runs in the third inning on a walk to Ayden Fall and hits from Wetherington, Payton Fall and Dan Menzier.
Chatham finally scratched out a run in the fourth when Thorsen and Cameron Horton each walked. Thorsen scored on a throwing error to third.
Duanesburg coach Adam Randall chatted with and consoled each of his players after the extremely tough defeat.
“I’m extremely proud of our guys,” Randall said. “We lost to them twice during the season, and we scored only one run against them. They beat us by 10 runs both times. But I’m extremely proud of the way we hung in there with them this time.”
Randall felt especially bad for his ace pitcher, who dominated one of the best lineups in the section.
“Peyton is a world-class pitcher,” Randall said. “There’s nothing I can say bad about him. He left it all out there today. There is nothing to feel bad about. Chatham is an excellent team. To hold them down like that is something to be extremely proud of. He has a very great future ahead of him, and I can’t wait to see how it works out.”
Randall admitted that Chatham’s running game turned out to be the key, even though Fall stymied the Panthers’ bats.
“For sure, we knew they were going to run on us. We were prepared for it. It didn’t go our way on the bases. It’s something we would have liked to have fix, but obviously, that’s hindsight.”
Randall wasn’t sure how much Fall had left at the end.
“I’m not sure he ran out of steam, but one of their guys definitely got hold of one in the seventh inning, and when they had a runner on second base, that definitely put a little pressure on us. All the credit goes to Chatham. They are a very good team, and they did everything they could to get that last run in,” Randall said.
Duanesburg 002 000 0 — 2 3 3
Chatham 000 100 2 — 3 4 1
Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected].