The 2014 Shenendehowa baseball team will gather for the last time Wednesday at the Plainsmen’s banquet, and then work will begin for the 2015 campaign.
Though they lose nine seniors from their New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class AA runner-up squad, junior Bryan Warzek showed again in the semifinal game that next season’s edition will have at least one ingredient for a successful spring.
Warzek played a crucial role in getting the Plainsmen to the state tournament, then took the mound for the semifinal game against the Section I champion Ketcham Indians.
Eight pitches into the game, he had loaded the bases with no outs.
“I don’t know if you can have a worse start, to be honest with you,” said Shen coach Greg Christodulu.
With the first pitch, Warzek hit leadoff hitter Jacob Morgenstern. Then Mark Joao advanced to first on catcher’s interference. Two pitches later, Warzek hit No. 3 hitter Jordan Bishop.
Clean-up hitter Tim Zehnbauer came in hitting .314 on the season, according to hudsonvalleysportsreport.com.Warzek buckled down and struck him out.
“It feels good,” Warzek said. “I got the big guy out.”
He got Kevin Duke (.347 average) out with a shallow fly to center, then struck out Tyler Cinelli (.352) on three pitches to get out of the inning.
Warzek said the Ketcham student section that was set up beside the Shen bullpen was raucous, but they didn’t affect him.
“I didn’t let it bother me, but the first inning got a little rough,” he said. “Some of my pitches weren’t working, but I got out of it, and then my batters, they did what they do.”
Warzek struck out 14 batters and allowed just two hits in the 5-0 win, moving to 8-0 on the season.
After throwing a first-pitch ball to the first five batters he faced, Warzek settled into a groove and threw a first-pitch strike to 12 of the next 13 batters, including 11 in a row.
He did well against lefty batters, and, being a lefty himself, was well-positioned to keep the Ketcham running game in order. The Indians swiped 81 bags before Saturday, and they managed just one against Warzek.
“He kept their runners close,” Christodulu said. “They had a ton of stolen bases throughout the course of the season. A lot of their guys in their lineup ran, and I know they only had one stolen base today. Bryan kept them at bay with their running game, which is a big part of their offense.”
He loaded the bases again in the fifth inning. For the first five batters, he alternated a trio of four-pitch walks with two three-pitch strikeouts, then worked a four-pitch strikeout to end the threat.
During the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, Christodulu had sophomore Ian Anderson warming in the pen. Warzek, though, made his case again and again to be left in.
“Bryan had pitched into some situations throughout the course of the game, and probably the thing that kept Bryan in was he continued to battle back,” Christodulu said. “Even when he fell behind in the count, he battled back.”