Greg Musk ended up getting thrown out when his line drive banged off Johnstown pitcher Connor Rodecker’s foot to start Schalmont’s first at-bat in Wednesday’s Section II Class B title game.
Musk’s vicious cut, though, sent a message. The Sabres were in an offensive mood, ready to do damage.
Schalmont piled up seven hits, including a home run by John Pascarella and back-to-back triples, in its 10-run first, and cruised to a 14-3 victory over the Sir Bills at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.
“I had a feeling the bats were going to erupt,” said Schalmont coach Bob Anderson. “He hits it off that kid’s foot, we get a couple of walks and we don’t stop.
“The next thing, we look up and it’s 10-0. We’ve never opened up with 10 runs in all of my years here. It was unbelievable.”
The early outburst was much more than Jimmy Hamilton would need as the senior righty notched his second postseason win, and extended the Sabres’ playoff shutout streak to 19 innings before allowing three runs in the seventh.
“That set the tone for the whole game,” Pascarella said of the first-inning onslaught. “After that, we were good. We had Jimmy on the mound, and we knew we were in good shape.”
Schalmont was held scoreles until the sixth in Tuesday’s 6-0 semifinal triumph over top-seeded Chatham. Musk started the scoring in that game with a two-run double, and spun a no-hitter to propel the Sabres (No. 4, 19-4) into their first final since 2009.
“We struck out 10 times yesterday. We didn’t today. I think we had one,” said Hamilton. “We put the ball in play, and we hit it hard. That was a plus.”
Schalmont rolled to its first championship since 2006 (Class A) behind its quick flurry of runs and Hamilton’s steady effort. Schalmont will take on the Section VII representative (Beekmantown or Peru) Monday at 4 in a regional game at SUNY-Plattsburgh.
“This means a lot. We won it in ’06, and made it back in ’09 and got beat [by Mohonasen in the Class A final]. To win it again is great, but this team is not done,” said Anderson, who has only three seniors on his roster. “We’ve never won a regional game. We’ve still got baseball to play. We’ve got things to accomplish.”
Schalmont got plenty done in about a half-hour span to open Wednesday’s contest. Schalmont sent 14 batters to the plate in the first inning against Rodecker and reliever Richie Lee, and 10 of them reached base in succession after the second out was recorded.
“I had a good vibe after that,” Hamilton said of Musk’s liner, which ricocheted to third baseman Matt Szurek, who then fired to first. “I knew we were going to hit the ball.”
Aside from the seven hits, the Sabres drew four walks and stole a pair of bases in the marathon half-inning.
“Rodecker got flinchy and wouldn’t finish pitches. We just could not stop it,” said Johnstown coach Aaron Mraz. “We got overwhelmed at first, but what I liked is we didn’t stop playing.”
Hamilton opened the scoring with a two-run single, Anthony Yezzo brought a run home with a bases-loaded walk and Kevin Paskevich — batting ninth in the order — cleared the sacks with a triple.
Musk’s RBI triple and Dom Toma’s RBI single set the stage for Pascarella’s two-run homer over the right-field fence.
“We’ve been talking about it since day one. ‘Road to the Joe,’ ” said Hamilton. “Everone was focused on the ride over.”
Musk’s RBI groundout in the second and Tyler Smith’s RBI groundout in the third made it 12-0. Toma’s RBI single and Pascarella’s RBI groundout made it 14-0 in the sixth.
Anthony Cote had a double and a single among Schalmont’s 11 hits off five Johnstown hurlers. Brion Dufek added a pinch-hit double.
“I thought the guys did a good job of staying focused and finishing it after we got the big lead,” said Anderson.
Hamilton went to 8-0 and came within three outs of setting a Schalmont single-season record with four shutouts. He gave up four hits in the last inning and seven overall, struck out six and walked one.
Johnstown scored in the seventh on Ryan Auty’s sacrifice fly, Joey Henderson’s RBI double and Lee’s RBI single.
“Our pitching has been fantastic all year,” said Anderson. “With Jimmy Hamilton on the mound with his 7-0 record and ERA under one, I was very confident.”
Johnstown (No. 6, 16-8) won its last section championship in 1968. The Sir Bills won three times to earn another title bid, including a 5-4, nine-inning quarterfinal victory over No. 3 Corinth.
“We were hoping to be competitive and get better, and the learning curve exploded midway through the season. That was a pleasant surprise,” said Mraz. “Once they started to believe in themselves, we went on a nice run, and that was good for our community. We’ve been down for a while, and the community was excited to see this.”
CLASS A postponed
Wednesday night’s Class A title game between Scotia-Glenville (No. 4, 15-7) and Queensbury (No. 2, 17-5) was postponed due to a thunderstorm, and will be made up Friday at 4 prior to the Class AA final pitting Shaker (No. 4, 16-6) and Shenendehowa (No. 3, 19-3).
Today’s Class D final at 4 pits Germantown (No. 2, 15-5) against Fort Ann (No. 1, 18-2). Voorheesville (No. 10, 16-7) and Fort Plain (No. 1, 19-2) meet afterward for Class C honors.
Johnstown 000 000 3 — 3 7 2
Schalmont (10)11 002 x - 14 11 0
Rodecker, Lee (1), Everest (2), Morrison (5), J. Nellis (6) and Caputo; J. Hamilton and Yezzo.