The Galway baseball team does not play for another week. The Eagles have earned the rest.
Galway all but locked up a berth in the Class C playoffs with a 19-9 win over Mekeel Christian Academy on Monday, the Eagles’ fourth win in five Western Athletic Conference games covering eight days.
“One more win, we’ll be sectional-bound,” said Eagles coach Toby Youngblood, whose team is 6-3 in the WAC and 7-5 overall. “Our goal was to get to seven wins. This was our seventh win overall, but one more will solidify it.”
Senior Nick Manna gave the Eagles a big lift Monday, coming in to pitch the final 42⁄3 innings of a game that started off like a slow-pitch softball game. The teams combined for 14 runs and 19 hits as the Lions took an 8-6 lead through three innings.
With Manna limiting Mekeel Christian Academy to one run the rest of the way, his teammates produced 12 runs in the final three innings, nine in the sixth and seventh.
“They were hitting Cody [starting pitcher Cody Marshall] pretty hard, so I was just trying to keep us in it,” said Manna.”
I wanted to stop the bleeding right there.”
“We have a good rotation, and it was Cody’s turn to pitch today,” said Youngbood. “But it was also Nick’s day to prepare, since we weren’t playing again for a week. It worked out for us.”
Lions coach Guy DeAngelis tried four different relievers after taking the ball from starter Shawn King in the fifth, with his team ahead, 9-7. The first batter a reliever faced was Marshall, who delivered his big three-base hit.
“We can score runs,” said DeAngelis. “We need to stop them from scoring. But we couldn’t throw strikes.”
The MCA relievers walked eight batters, three coming with the bases loaded in Galway’s four-run sixth inning.
Galway’s run of success began last Monday when the Eagles ended Saratoga Central Catholic’s 32-game win streak in WAC play.
“It was big confidence-wise, but every game, you want to go in thinking you’re going to win. That game, we thought we could win,” said Marshall, who went 2-for-5 and scored four runs from his leadoff spot as the Eagles finished with 18 hits. “We felt this was the year we could beat Spa.”
Second baseman Kyle Collins drove in five runs, Manna knocked in three more, Evan Ceroala went 4-for-5 and scored four runs, and No. 2 hitter Adam Berlin scored four times.
“Everyone’s been doing it,” Marshall said. “Adam Berlin, Kyle, Nick, Cody, Evan. Guys have been hot all year.
“When the season started, we heard predictions that we should go about 12-4. We had a rough start, but ever since we beat Broadalbin-Perth and Spa, it’s really come together for us. We’re playing hard, making plays, but mostly we’re playing smart.”
Marshall and his fellow seniors have made it their mission to play deep into the postseason.
“Six or seven of us play summer ball, some of us seniors are looking to play in college. We love this game,” he said.
“A lot of us are friends that have been playing together for seven or eight years. Three of us went to the Mid-Atlantic regional when we were 12. We’ve played in big games. We want to keep playing.”
“The team camaraderie has been good. Everyone’s motivated to get to sectionals,” said Manna. “One more win, and I think we clinch a spot.”
Mekeel could have helped itself in its bid to secure a Class D sectional spot.
“This would have been a big win towards that, especially because they’re a Class C team,” said DeAngelis. “When we keep our focus, we’re a good team.
“We’re young. We only have one senior starter. Today, we got off to a good start, but we have to play that way for seven innings.”
The Lions had 17 hits, with leadoff batter Tyler Guido going 4-for-5 with three runs scored, Oheino Miller getting three hits from the No.2 spot and Courtney Penson driving in five runs.
Galway 240 134 5 — 19 18 1
Mekeel Christian 332 100 0 — 9 17 2
C.Marshall, Manno (3) and S.Marshall; King, Penson (5), Guido (6), Alteri (6), Kelly (7) and Zeronda.