Shenendehowa manufactures Game 3 victory, completing comeback over Saratoga Springs for Class AA baseball title

Baseball team celebrates on mound

Shenendehowa celebrates its Game 3 victory and Section 2 Class AA title with a victory over Saratoga Springs on Sunday at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.

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TROY — The third game of the Section 2 Class AA championship series came down to the team that made the fewest mistakes, and that was Shenendehowa.

The Plainsmen took advantage of three costly errors by Saratoga Springs, earning a 3-1 victory Sunday in the winner-take-all championship game.

“Putting the ball in play is one thing,” said Shenendehowa coach Greg Christodulu. “Playing good, clean defense is another. You’ve got to play good defense when you’re playing at Joe Bruno Stadium, or you won’t last long.”

In the bottom of the first inning, Shenendehowa’s Thomas Hall led off with a single off starting pitcher Michael Mack. After advancing to second on a wild pitch, Hall tagged-up to reach third on a fly ball to deep center by Ethan Farina. Shenendehowa’s leadoff hitter came in to score the first run of the game on a fielding error by Saratoga Springs second baseman Orion Lansing.

The Blue Streaks escaped the inning on an unassisted double play turned by Pat McKinley on a line drive to first base.

Saratoga Springs got that run back in the top of the third inning, using a single by Raul Rodriguez and an RBI triple from Camden Rhude.

“It was a big, clutch hit. It was a big momentum shift,” said Mack on Rhude’s triple, who added that Pat McKinley nearly missed a home run later in the game. “Pat almost did it again for us, but they ran it down. He probably hit that 380 feet and just got unlucky.”

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Ethan Farina of Shenendehowa was hit by a pitch to lead off — the 10th time he’s been hit by a pitch this season. After stealing second base, Farina came in to score the go-ahead run on a fielding error by Lansing.

The Plainsmen used a similar formula to tack on a third run in the bottom of the sixth. After Thomas Hall reached on a hit-batsman — his eighth of the season — he stole second and then scored on a throwing error by Saratoga third baseman Jack Rigabar.

“We get right up on the plate and we’re not going to move our feet,” Hall said. “We’ll take it if it’s inside, really just any way to get on base.”

“It played a huge factor,” Hall added on his and Farina’s hit-by-pitches. “We only had one hit, so we needed baserunners in order to manufacture runs, any way possible. Those hit-by-pitches really helped give us an opportunity to do that.”

In the start for Shenendehowa, Nino Salati allowed seven hits and one run over 4 1/3 innings. He struck out three, without walking a batter.

With two runners on in the top of the fifth inning, and one out, Shenendehowa handed the ball to Brad Curtis, as Rhude came up to bat.

Curtis used just one pitch to escape the inning, forcing Rhude to ground into a 6-4-3 double play.

“He’s a good hitter in a big spot,” Curtis said. “I just wanted to put a pitch in there and let my defense do the work. They turned a big double play and got the job done.”

Curtis, who pointed to Mariano Rivera as his favorite closer, went on to earn the save after pitching 2 2/3 innings of scoreless ball. He allowed just one hit, while striking out five.

“I just hope I don’t wake up from a really good dream right now. It feels amazing,” he said after getting the final out. 

“We had to manufacture runs,” Curtis added. “Mack was great tonight. He’s Pitcher of the Year for a reason, but we were able to get the job done.”

In the loss, Mack tossed his seventh complete game of the season. He used just 78 pitches over six innings of work. He allowed just one hit and three unearned runs, without walking a batter.

“Tonight we came here and completely outhit them,” Mack said. I’d say we out-played them, but it’s like we didn’t come to play in the field. We weren’t ready; there were too many errors and mistakes at crucial times and that’s why we lost the game.”

It is the third time Saratoga’s junior right-handed has thrown a complete game in the last 10 days.

“I definitely didn’t have my best stuff today, but it was good enough to get ground balls right at guys,” Mack added. “I think I did well with my pitch count, but we just made errors.”

Mack also went 2 for 3 on Sunday with the bat, while Rigabar and Rodriguez each had two hits.

After dropping the first game of the series to Saratoga 3-2, Shenendehowa came back to win the second game 10-2 and the third game 3-1.

“We knew we had it in us to win,” said Curtis. “We just had to apply pressure and we were able to come back and play better the next day. James Redick helped us out in Game 2 and got us to Game 3. We came through in the big spots to win.”

“It’s insane,” Hall added. “It’s wonderful. The way our team can fight back and claw. We never gave up, even in that first game we fought and we almost won it. We were resilient and we just never gave up.”

Shenendehowa (19-6) advances to the regional championship round of the state playoffs, which will be against Section 3’s Liverpool (14-10) on Saturday at Onondaga Community College.

“The win means I get to coach at least one more game in the regional,” Christodulu said. “We’ve been there before. We’re going to prepare our guys and we hope to represent Section 2 to the best of our ability.”

Saratoga Springs 001 000 0 — 1 8 3

Shenendehowa 100 101 X — 3 1 1

Contact Kyle Adams at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @kasportsnews.

Categories: -Sports-, Clifton Park and Halfmoon, High School Sports, Saratoga Springs, Sports, Youth Sports

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