On another cold and blustery afternoon, Schenectady’s young baseball team stayed hot.
Jordan Bernacet took a shutout into the seventh inning and drove in four runs, and Zach Schellenger drilled a two-run triple as the Patriots completed a sweep of Catholic Central with a 10-2 win Wednesday at Central Park’s Joseph Spruill Field.
The Patriots, with three sophomore starters, are two Big 10 victories away from clinching a Section II Class AA playoff spot.
“It’s kind of surprising because we’ve got such a young team, but in a way, it’s not surprising,” said Bernacet. “We’re young, but we’ve got grit and we’ve got toughness. We battle.
“Every guy wants to hit. Every guy wants to throw strikes.”
Bernacet did both of those things well, and got plenty of support from his teammates, including 10th-grade second baseman Mike Gibson, who made a diving catch, singled and scored one of his two runs on the back end of a double steal.
“I’m very pleased with where we are with such a young team,” said Schenectady coach John Isabella, whose roster includes only four seniors. “We’ve still got Amsterdam, CBA and Albany. We’ll see how we do.”
Schenectady (6-2, 6-3) swept Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons to begin its league schedule and split with Troy and defending Big 10 champion LaSalle before taking two from Catholic Central (2-6, 2-6). The Pats also beat the Crusaders, 17-3, Monday, using a four-run first and a six-run third to take control.
“These kids get after each other. They’re different than some of the teams I’ve had,” said Isabella. “They’re vocal, and I like that. The’re not afraid to push each other.”
Schenectady scored six in the second inning Wednesday, with Schellenger smashing his two-run triple to deep center after Bernacet delivered a two-run single to the right-center gap.
Brandon Gwinner started the second with a single, and chased Catholic Central starter Luke Hansen with an RBI single in the fourth that made it 9-0.
“We have the ability to bunch hits. We feed off each other,” said Schellenger, a senior catcher who also picked up a single and a stolen base. “Even with two outs, we string hits together. The last time we played them [Catholic Central], we had a double and four singles in the first inning.”
Bernacet brought home runs in the fourth and fifth with sacrifice flies, and Chris Landis had a productive day with a single, two runs scored and two walks, his first with the bases full giving the Pats a 1-0 lead.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do in the future,” Isabella said Gibson, Landis and fellow sophomore Chris Ramsundar. “Tenth-graders starting. It’s something we haven’t had in a while.”
Bernacet gave up one hit through six inning and three in all, struck out six and walked three for his third victory of the season.
“When I was younger, I tried to blow guys away. I realized I can’t do that. I’m not 6-3 and I don’t throw 95,” said the junior lefty. “I have to mix pitches up. That’s my game plan.”
“He doesn’t overpower you. He finesses you,” said Isabella. “He’s got the change, curve, cutter, and his fastball is sneaky.”
Adam Dahl and Jeremy Glazer hit two-out RBI singles in the seventh for Catholic Central following a Bernacet walk and an error. Bob Martino had the Crusaders other hit, a single in the third.
“We play our best with him [Bernacet] on the mound,” said Schellenger. “We hit better. We play better defense. We have confidence.”
Catholic Central 000 000 2 — 2 3 1
Schenectady 060 310 x — 10 9 1
L. Hansen, Glazer (4) and N. Hansen; Bernacet and Schellenger.