AMSTERDAM — A two-out, seventh-inning triple by Brian Burns gave Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk hope in Tuesday's Section II Class B semifinal game with Mechanicville, but not the run it really needed.
Matt Wertman took care of that just before Burns' blow off the right field wall when the Red Raiders' banged-up catcher threw out a runner attempting to steal second base.
"I wanted to win so bad," said Wertman, his left ankle heavily wrapped in athletic tape following Mechanicville's 2-1 victory at Shuttleworth Park. "I put it in my head that I'm going out there."
Reliever Devin Garland left Burns stranded at third with a game-ending strikeout as the Red Raiders (No. 3 seed, 16-3) earned their first title-game berth since 1990. While Garland and Wertman were the featured players in the end, Jake LaFountain helped his team get to that spot with a two-hit, 16-strikeout effort as well as an RBI double.
The Class B baseball semifinals on the Shuttleworth turf were the only sectional contests played Tuesday due to rain. The Class D baseball semifinals slated for Tuesday were moved to Wednesday, and the softball quarterfinals (all classes) scheduled for Tuesday were also shifted to Wednesday.
"This is so great," said LaFountain, who left after 124 pitches with one down in the top of the seventh. "It's so surreal. I've always dreamed about going to Bruno [Joe Bruno Stadium] and now it's happening."
Wertman had an idea what was going to happen after Garland walked the first batter he faced in Carter Sorensen. Sorensen had flashed his speed earlier in the game when he beat out a pair of infield singles.
"He [Sorensen] knew I was hurt," Wertman said. "I knew he was going. I powered back and threw the ball as hard as I could."
Wertman had slipped off the rain-slicked first base bag and fell hard trying unsuccessfully to beat out an infielder chopper to end the sixth inning. In the ensuing frame, his strong throw and second baseman Rocko DeVito's tag left the bases empty for Burns.
"That was a huge, huge play," Mechanicville coach Scott Kraszewski said. "The throw was on the money and our second baseman did a great job with the tag."
"He [Wertman] slipped off the base and was hurting," LaFountain said of his teammate. "That was one of the biggest plays of the game."
Garland fanned Ravena clean-up batter Tommy Rosario to seal Red Raiders' eighth straight win and third of this postseason.
"This is how we play," Kraszewski said. "We've been in a lot of close games. This was the norm for us. Pitching and a couple of clutch hits. We like to make it interesting in Mechanicville."
The Red Raiders managed three hits, but two of them came in a two-run third against Ravena starter Tyrell Irvis. DeVito started the frame with a walk and a steal of second base, and LaFountain hit a one-out RBI double to right. After Jake Popiel was hit by a pitch, Nick Billert stroked an RBI double to right.
Ravena (No. 7, 12-8) got a run back in the fifth on a two-out walk, an infield single by Sorensen, and two more walks. In all, LaFountain walked seven, as did Irvis in his five innings of work.
"After I walked the run in I had to grind it out," LaFountain said.
LaFountain left the bases full in the fifth with a strikeout, and he stranded two runners in the second and third. The junior righty struck out the side in the third, fourth and fifth while picking up his second sectional win, the first coming in a 3-0 first-round victory over Voorheesville.
"My curveball was working real good," LaFountain said.
"He [LaFountain] was pnenomenal," Kraszewski said. "When he's on the hill we stand a good chance to win."
Mechanicville and Schuylerville will meet for the Class B championship Friday at 7 p.m at Joe Bruno Stadium.
Schuylerville (No. 4, 14-7) knocked off Coxsackie-Athens (No. 1, 17-5) in the second semifinal 7-0. Matt McCarthy pitched a one-hitter for the Back Horses, and Alex Vallee, Charles Luzadis and Paul Harshbarger had RBI doubles. Colton Weatherwax and Nathan Preston added RBI singles for the Black Horses.
Schuylerville hasn't allowed a run in the sectionals, with wins against Catskill (10-0) in the quarterfinals and Cobleskill-Richmondville (9-0) in the opening round
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