Suddenly, Clifton Park Knights starting pitcher Ian Anderson couldn’t find the strike zone.
After dominating the North Colonie Bison for the first five innings, Anderson gave up a solid hit to right, walked two batters and uncorked three wild pitches, including one that ended up 10 feet high on the backstop. It appeared that he was done.
But despite giving up one run, Anderson buckled down after a huddle with his manager and coaches, and he struck out the final two batters of the inning to put out the fire.
Reliever Johnny Cady closed out the seventh inning, and the Clifton Park Knights defeated the Bison, 6-1, to win the Babe Ruth 14-year-old Mid-Atlantic Regional championship Monday night at Clifton Common.
The Knights advance to the 14-year-old Babe Ruth World Series in Moses Lake, Wash., Aug. 17-24.
Clifton Park’s pitching staff was outstanding throughout the regional, allowing only three runs in six games. Anderson picked up his third win of the regional, allowing three hits and four walks over six innings. He struck out seven.
“I just kind of lost my control there,” said Anderson of the sixth inning meltdown. “I think I was a little tired. I just wanted to strike that guy out and get out of the inning.”
Anderson said he tried to convince manager Tom Huerter and the rest of the coaches that he could come out in the seventh.
“They told me there was a lot more baseball left to pitch,” he said.
Ben Anderson, his twin brother and his catcher, said he wasn’t surprised that Ian battled back to get out of the inning.
“He just lost the zone for a while. It’s happened before. I think he was trying to over pitch a little bit,” Ben Anderson said.
“That’s how Ian has been,” added Huerter. “Sometimes, he gets too hyped up, and he throws too hard. But the luxury of being up, 6-1, is that you can settle him down, give him a chance to calm down and have him execute. He’s had some arm issues before, so we didn’t want to take any chances of him coming out in the seventh. Besides, we’ve used six pitchers in the regionals. We have the depth.”
Both Clifton Park and North Colonie were 4-0 in pool play, but Clifton Park lost the coin toss to determine which team would be home.
The Knights wasted no time in getting on the board first. Kevin Huerter, the manager’s son and the starting shortstop, walked, stole second and scored on Mike Spulnick’s solid single up the middle.
The Knights broke open the game with four runs in the second inning. With one out, Ben Anderson doubled to center and scored on an error by North Colonie shortstop Justin Methe. Matt Straney reached on the error. Justin Geaery singled in Straney before Kurt Forsell walked to load the bases.
Kevin Huerter drew another walk to force in a run, Ian Anderson singled to left to score the third run of the inning and Spulnick grounded out to plate another run.
Clifton Park added another run in the fifth when Payton Johnson walked with two outs, moved to second on an error and scored on a single to center by Straney.
This is the second time that many of the Clifton Park players will be participating in a World
Series. Clifton Park, also managed by Tom Huerter, earned a berth in the World Series two years ago when they Knights were 12 years old.
“This feels a lot better than the first time, because we earned this one,” said Ian Anderson. “Two years ago, we actually lost in the states, but because we were the home team, we got another chance to be in the regionals.”
Tom Huerter agreed. “These are the same group of kids we’ve had for the last couple of years. They have experience,” Huerter said. “They really deserve this. It should be fun going to Washington. When they were 12 years old, they were just happy to be there. Now, we want something more.”
“This is very exciting,” said Kevin Huerter. “This was always our goal since we started playing back in April. Last year, we reached the semifinals in the regionals, but we lost.”
Clifton Park 140 010 0 — 6 7 1
North Colonie 000 001 0 — 1 3 2
I. Anderson, Cady (7) and B. Anderson; Mills, Lozano (6) and Pesnel.
NISKAYUNA WINS TITLE
NISKAYUNA — Tyler Senecal pitched six strong innings as host Niskayuna beat South Colonie, 11-1, in the championship game of the 13U Middle Atlantic Babe Ruth Regional.
Niskayuna scored five runs in the second inning and Senecal shut down the Pool B champions, handing South Colonie its second loss in the tourney.
Niskayuna, which finished first in Pool A with a 3-1 record and beat Bayonne, N.J., 6-5, in the semifinals, moves on to the World Series. That tournament is scheduled for
Aug. 17-24 in Williston, N.D.
Niskayuna 052 004 — 11 10 1
South Colonie 000 001 — 1 3 2
burnt hills falls
BRISTOL, Conn. — A five-run inning by Newark and four errors were too much for Burnt Hills to overcome in a 10-7 loss to the Delaware champion in its third game at the Little League Mid-Atlantic Regional.
Burnt Hills fell behind, 5-1, in the second, and trailed, 10-2, going into the bottom of the fifth.
Evan Bowers and Derek Haughey drove in runs in a three-run Burnt Hills fifth, and Bowers hit a two-run single in the sixth, but Burnt Hills left runners on the corners to end the game.
Burnt Hills, 1-2, has a bye today, and finishes play Wednesday with a 10 a.m. game with Capitol City (Washington D.C.)
Newark, Del. 050 320 — 10 10 1
Burnt Hills 101 032 — 7 10 4
Miller, Callahan (5) and Hardcastle; Stewart, Bachus (4), Rhodes (6) and Haughey.