The positives outweighed the negatives as Schenectady opened its baseball season Monday with a 7-6 Big 10 win over feisty Catholic Catholic at Joe Spruill Field in Central Park.
Catcher Nick Patierne rapped out three hits in his new leadoff role, the Patriots turned a double play to quell an early Crusaders threat and Jeremy Kent got the final out with the potential tying run aboard to finish off a game that was long and sometimes rather messy.
“We played good today, but there’s certainly room for improvement,” said Patierne, who had a triple, a double, a run-scoring bunt single and scored twice. “Catholic Central is a real good team, and they’ve got a lot of fire in them. We play them again Wednesday, and hopefully, we come out and play better.”
Schenectady sophomore Jordan Bernacet picked up an RBI single for his first varsity hit, Patierne threw out a base stealer and Cole Gozalkowski went into the fourth inning with a no-hitter. On the flip side, Gozalkowski and Javar Tillman combined to issue 10 walks, and Schenectady lost a run on an appeal play at third base after Tillman ripped a third-inning double.
“We talk about battling. We talk about never giving up,” said Schenectady coach John Isabella. “We had some adversity and overcame it. The guys showed me they’re here for a serious season.”
Schenectady scored two runs in the home fourth to break a 2-2 tie, and added two in the fifth. Giuseppe Carberg’s RBI double in the sixth made it 7-2. Carberg and Tillman both finished with a double and a single among the Pats’ 11 hits.
“I was pleasantly surprised the bats were going the way they were going,” said Isabella, whose 2012 edition often let scoring opportunities slip away. “We need firepower this year. This is a tough league.”
“We did a lot of work on our batting. We’re definitely going to need to hit the ball,” said Patierne. “We’ve got the pitching, and we need the sticks to back it up.”
Catholic Central (0-1, 3-1) had its best success in its final at-bat, when a single by Luke Hansen, a double by Evan Stewart and a walk chased Tillman and Kent entered. Steve Curry hit a one-out, two-run double, and Jeremy Glazer stroked a two-out, two-run single before Kent got pinch-hitter Adam Dahl on a groundout to first.
“Boom, boom, boom, and all of a sudden it’s 7-6. They never gave up. It came down to the last pitch,” said Isabella. “Their kids battled, too.”
“After the sixth inning, we had a talk. I told the guys, ‘We know we’re going to play back to back, so let’s send a message. Let’s try to make them change pitchers,’ ” said first-year Catholic Central coach Dave Bestle. “Our kids battled. I give them a lot of credit.”
Patierne led off the Schenectady first with a double and brought home its initial run in the third, with his bunt single delivering Joe Zielinski, who singled to start the inning. Patierne later scored on an infield error.
Patierne tripled in the sixth to finish Drew Inglsbe’s outing, and raced home on Carberg’s double after Curry came on in relief.
“That was kind of an experiment to see if it would work,” Isabella said of batting Patierne first. “He’s got speed, and he makes contact. He’ll stay there until he doesn’t earn it any more.”
Patierne batted deep in the Schenectady order as a sophomore and junior.
“I didn’t hit so well last year, but I worked a lot getting ready for the season,” said Patierne. “In summer and fall ball, I batted No. 1 a lot and coach saw me. He knows I can do it.”
Liam Kelly’s single and three walks by Gozalkowski pulled the Crusaders within 2-1 in the fourth, and Glazer tied it on a forceout after Tillman came on.
Cody Shafer and Justin Parsons singled in the Pats’ fourth, and both scored on an infield error. Schenectady went up in the fifth, 6-2, on another infield error and Bernacet’s RBI single.
Catholic Central 000 200 4 — 6 6 3
Schenectady 002 221 x — 7 11 1
Ingalsbe, Curry (6) and Glazer; Gozalkowski, Tillman (4), Kent (7) and Patierne.