When Aaron Kalish lost his no-hitter in the seventh inning, and then saw his shutout bid put in jeopardy after an error, Shenendehowa’s ace maintained his cool.
“I try to stay in the present. I try not to look back or too far ahead,” said the right-hander. “I try to make the next pitch, keep working.”
Shenendehowa turned a double play behind its ace, and Kalish recorded his 12th strikeout to finish off Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Friday in a 3-0 victory for the Suburban Council leaders.
Matt Drum and Kyle McAlonie hit run-scoring singles in the top of the seventh before Kalish and his defense wiggled out of trouble in the bottom half.
“He’s developed into a poised, cagy veteran. Not once did he get flustered,” Shenendehowa coach Greg Christodulu said of Kalish, who has committed to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “They get a guy on third in the fourth inning, and he manages it. Two on in the seventh, and he manages it.”
Kalish needed three outs to become Shenendehowa’s first no-hit pitcher since Adam Croft blanked Bethlehem in 2000. He had allowed only one runner on a fourth-inning walk before Danny Maynard hit a roller down the third-base line for a single to begin the seventh.
“I wasn’t thinking about a no-hitter or crushing the ball,” said Maynard, Burnt Hills’ junior catcher. “The only thing I was thinking about was being aggressive. I saw a curve and jumped on it. I was trying to make something happen.”
Aaron Delano reached on a rare fielding error by shortstop Justin Yurchak, and Ryan Gardy lined a one-hopper to second baseman Josh Hayner. Hayner fired to Yurchak and his throw to first baseman John Novenche completed a double play.
“Justin and Josh work well together. You’ve got a guy going to Wake Forest [Yurchak] and another guy who is going to play somewhere big,” said Christodulu. “That took a lot of tension out of it.”
“It was relieving. I’ve got a solid defense,” said Kalish. “I know if I put it on the ground they have a chance to turn two.”
Josh Quesada drew a walk to start the BH-BL (8-5, 9-7) fourth, stole second and took third when a pickoff throw by Kalish went into center field. Drum handled a grounder at third for an out, and Kalish struck out two to escape the jam.
“I had to bear down. I had to make pitches and get my team back in the dugout,” said Kalish.
“He was awesome today. You tip your hat when a kid pitches that well,” said Burnt Hills coach Rob Duell. “It’s tough when you face a guy who has command in the zone and they don’t make errors behind him.”
Kalish struck out two in each of the first five innings.
“He was living at the knees and below,” said Maynard. “That’s what you’ve got to do in the Suburban Council. Leave it up, and you get smashed.”
In the Burnt Hills’ sixth, Quesada hit a sinking liner in the gap that center fielder McAlonie ran down. Left fielder Garrett Snyder turned in a pair of defensive gems for BH-BL, first making an over-the-shoulder catch near the fence to rob McAlonie in the second. In the fourth, after John Clayton issued two walks and Drum singled for Shenendehowa’s first hit, Snyder fired home and Maynard tagged out Hayner.
“Garrett has a very good arm. That’s a very big play,” said Duell. “It keeps us tied.”
Two walks and a fielder’s choice RBI off Doug Connor’s bat gave Shenendehowa (12-1, 15-1) a 1-0 lead in the fifth. Yurchak doubled in the seventh to set up two-out RBI hits by Drum and McAlonie.
“We showed we can play with a really good team,” said Duell. “That’s what I want our kids to take away from this.”
Shenendehowa 000 010 2 — 3 7 2
BH-BL 000 000 0 — 0 1 1
Kalish and Pearson; Clayton, Gardy (5) and Maynard.