NISKAYUNA -- As the Niskayuna baseball team rounded into shape over the last few weeks, clutch hits were still missing.
The Silver Warriors were getting guys on, but not enough of them were coming home.
"Every team goes through stretches where they have runners on base and they're not getting that hit," Silver Warriors coach Chris Bianchi said.
Monday wasn't that day, with the Silver Warriors breaking out against a familiar foe that had stymied them a month ago.
Niskayuna scored nine runs in the second inning, and by the third every starter had a base hit in a 15-7 Suburban Council victory over Shenendehowa.
Alec Ritzenthaler got the win by pitching into the sixth. The senior's two-run home run capped the big second inning that came against three Shenendehowa pitchers.
"They swung the bats," said Shenendehowa coach Greg Christodulu, whose team trailed 12-0 after two innings and 15-2 after five. "They played defense. They threw strikes. They were everything we were expecting them to be. Unfortunately we didn't play the way we wanted."
Niskayuna (9-5, 10-8) beat Shenendehowa (12-2, 13-4) in last season's Section II Class AA final 4-0, and Shenendehowa beat Niskayuna last month in a non-league game 4-2. Brandon Roberts pitched five shutout innings in that game and started Monday's rematch, but was chased in the second after allowing five hits and five runs.
The hits and runs continued to come.
"We were able to put balls in play, especially with two outs," Bianchi said. "We had good at-bats up and down the lineup."
Cole Hedden and Tim Schaffer hit RBI singles in the second inning, and Chris Erickson hit a two-run single before Ritzenthaler's two-run shot - his first homer of the season - sailed over the fence in right-center. The big inning included seven hits, two walks, a passed ball and a couple of wild pitches.
"When you have so many guys on base, it makes it difficult for a pitcher to locate," Bianchi said.
Ritzenthaler went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, and beat Shenendehowa like he did in the 2017 sectional title game.
"We were psyched to play the No. 1 team in the section," Ritzenthaler said.
Hedden went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs, and James Murphy went 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs as Niskayuna added to its list of quality wins.
"We've beaten the top three teams, those being Shenendehowa, Bethlehem and Colonie," said Bianchi, whose Silver Warriors complete league play Wednesday at Shaker. "We've had some inconsistencies along the way, but we're starting to iron them out.
"Our mental state and our confidence is in good shape. We want to keep that positive approach as we head toward the playoffs."
"I think we're in a good spot," Ritzenthaler said. "We'll see what happens."
Ritzenthaler gave up two runs in the top of the second before Niskayuna turned a close game around in the bottom half, when 13 Silver Warriors batted. Ritzenthaler had two hits in the inning.
Jake Reinisch went 3-for-3 with a double for Shenendehowa, Cole Paquin had a double, single and an RBI, and Zach Goldberg had a double and two RBIs. The Plainsmen play a league/non-league double-header at Saratoga Springs Wednesday before opening their playoff bid. The Plainsmen have reached every Class AA final since 2012, with a trio of titles and a state championship (2016) in that span.
Shenendehowa 020 004 1 - 7 10 3
Niskayuna 290 030 x - 15 16 0
Roberts, Barkevich (2), Jones (2), Gregor (5) and Fagle, Aiello (3); Ritzenthaler, Morra (6), Funyak (7) and Cantoria.