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Ballston Spa fails to end baseball drought

Ballston Spa fails to end baseball drought

Columbia rallies for Class AA title
Ballston Spa fails to end baseball drought
Ballston Spa's Michael Poirer pitches againt Columbia at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium Tuesday.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber/Gazette Photographer

TROY -- For four innings Ballston Spa had the upper hand. After seven, Columbia had another baseball championship.

The Blue Devils scored runs in the fifth, sixth and seven innings, and Danny Watson went the distance as the Blue Devils edged the Scotties 3-1 in the Section II Class AA final Tuesday night at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.

Columbia (No. 7 seed, 15-5) secured its first large-school title since 2012, and its fourth going back to 2004, while Ballston Spa (No. 5, 16-7) was denied its second crown, the first coming back in 1973.

"I'm super proud of this group," Ballston Spa coach Curtis Nobles said soon after Watson retired the side in order in the seventh. "Best group I've had in my coaching career ... We're young. We'll be back."

Ballston Spa had beaten Saratoga Springs 13-4 and Shenendehowa 11-1 to reach the title game, yet managed just three singles off Watson, and its run was unearned.

"He is what he's advertised to be," Nobles said of the tall senior righty who fanned seven, walked one and hit a batter. "We didn't square up. He was mixing and matching and kept us off balance. Other teams, we did a better job of recognizing pitches."

Ballston Spa got the jump, though,when semifinal hero Jake Manderson singled to start the Ballston Spa fourth and Chance Checca was hit by a pitch with two down. Mack Bumford followed with a grounder to short that Matt Wimmer bobbled for an error. When Wimmer fired to first, Manderson continued to run home for the Scotties' only run.

"He picked himself up," Columbia coach Chris Dedrick said of Wimmer, whose double in the sixth proved huge. "He didn't allow that error to affect his next at-bat."

Wimmer doubled deep to left after Carmen Erno had singled with one down in the sixth. Willie Terrell followed with an RBI single to push the Blue Devils ahead 2-1.

In the seventh Columbia added an insurance run after Luke Gold relieved starter Michael Poirer. Justin Pangman greeted Gold with a one-out single, and, after a walk and passed ball, Matt LeHara lofted a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1.

"To be part of this is a great experience," Watson said.

Like Wimmer's double, Terrell's sixth-inning hit was a redeemer. In the fifth inning, the Columbia first baseman had led off with a hard liner to right field, but he was thrown out at first on a dart by Bumford.

"He hits the ball so hard," Dedrick said of Terrell. "He's an example of a senior who got another opportunity, and made the most of it."

Columbia pulled even in that fifth inning on a Jack Hernandez single, a walk, and a one-out RBI single by Nic Stagnitta.

"Early on, we couldn't get anything going," Dedrick said. "Later on we had some timely hitting."

Poirer gave up a two-out single to  LeHara in the first and walked two to fill the bases before the junior righty escaped the threat with a fly to right. He faced the minimum nine batters from the second through fourth innings before Columbia began its comeback in the fifth.

Ballston Spa won its first Section II title in 1973, with a Class B sweep of Ichabod Crane, South Glens Falls and Chatham. That team was inducted into the Ballston Spa Hall of Fame several weeks ago.

Ballston Spa baseball was looking to add to what has been a great spring for the school's athletic program. Its softball team claimed its second Section II Class AA title in three years with a 2-1 win over Columbia Tuesday, and its boys' lacrosse team captured its first area title Friday by beating Queensbury 21-5 in the Class B final.

Columbia will play Section III champ Baldwinsville Saturday at 7 p.m. at Bruno Stadium in a regional championship game.

QUEENSBURY BEATS AMSTERDAM

Queensbury senior Noah Edwards blanked Amsterdam over the final five innings, and Mike Siano and Jack Sylvia drove in two runs apiece, as the Spartans beat the top-seeded Rams 5-2 to earn their third Section II Class A title in four years.

Graham Wettersten's RBI bunt single in the fifth gave Queensbury (No. 2, 16-4) a 3-2 lead, and Siano padded it with a two-out, two-run single in the seventh.

"After I gave up the two runs and we put up that run to go ahead, I knew we were going to win," Edwards said after hurling a five-hitter with five strikeouts and one walk. "I wasn't going to give up any more runs."

Edwards retired 12 of the final 13 batters he faced. Francisco Santana was the lone Ram to reach during that stretch, on a leadoff single in the sixth, and Santana was picked off by Spartans' catcher Nathan Angel.

Sylvia hit an RBI double in the top of the second, and Amsterdam went up 2-1 in the bottom half on Jake Greco's two-run single. Sylvia tied the game with an RBI single in the fourth.

Amsterdam (No. 1, 13-7) was denied its first sectional title since 1974. Queensbury's bid for three in a row ended in the quarterfinals last year, when Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake scored five seventh-inning runs in a 10-8 win.

"That was motivation for us," Edwards said after Queensbury secured its fourth championship in six years under head coach Jay Marra.

Queensbury will play the Section III (East Syracuse-Minoa)-Section X (Franklin Academy) sub-regional winner Saturday (time TBA) at either Onondaga Community College or Norwood-Norfolk High School.

CLASS AA

Columbia 000 011 1 - 3 7 3

Ballston Spa 000 100 0 - 1 3 1

Watson and Premo; Poirer, Gold (7) and Manderson.

CLASS A

Queensbury 010  110 2 - 5 8 1

Amsterdam 020 000 0 - 2 5 3

Edwards and Angel; Safran, Devins (7) and Rocas.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.

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