After a trio of big innings led by key hits, Albany Academy blew out Saratoga Catholic in the Class B sectional final on Wednesday afternoon at Joe Bruno Stadium by a final score of 12-4.
The Cadets of Albany got their offense going quickly early as they jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning off Spa starter Terel Tillman while batting around. The second batter of the game, Ethan Duda, tripled to left. The bases loaded quickly after that to open up the lead for Albany Academy, and they didn’t look back from there.
However, they did see some challenge from Spa as the Saints trimmed the deficit to 4-3 in the third inning behind two singles from Tillman and Kaden Learch, as the momentum began to switch to the Saints.
Things really got going for Academy in the fifth as they scored another quartet of runs to open up an 8-3 lead while getting Tillman pulled in the process behind an RBI double from E.J. Birch and a single from pitcher Ben Seiler. Seiler had a huge day, going into the seventh inning on the mound and driving in three Cadet runs, going 2-4 on the day.
The sixth inning, however, is when things turned for the worse for Spa Catholic. It took them eight hitters to get the first out of the frame as Albany Academy led off the inning with back-to-back triples courtesy of Brett Young and Birch to get the rally going. After that, it was a slew of errors that did the Saints in, as the Cadets sent 10 to the plate, batting around in both the fifth and sixth innings.
“The kids play the games. All we try to do as coaches is to put them in the best possible position to play their best, and I think they did that today,” Albany Academy head coach Dave Rider said.
After the onslaught of runs in the first inning, it allowed Seiler to ease up on the mound dealing with less pressure than usual, and doing so coming off a perfect game against Voorheesville in the sectional semifinals on Saturday.
“I didn’t have my best (game), but when you have your (off-speed) stuff, your guys always have your back,” Seiler said. “To get a four-run lead in the first inning is huge as a pitcher.”
Tillman’s rough game was a rarity for the Saints, as he had allowed just four earned runs all year in 43.2 innings for the Wasaren League champs, and allowed a total of seven earned runs in just four innings of work.
“We had some miscues that didn’t really help Terel. A pitcher can survive without maybe his best stuff, but he has to have some help on the other side too. We just didn’t play a complete game today,” Saratoga Catholic head coach Phonsey Lambert said.
Top-seeded Spa Catholic’s season ends following the loss. They finish at 20-3 on the season, and are credited with winning the regular season title in the Wasaren League.
With the victory, Albany Academy advances to play in the state tournament for the second time in three years. They will begin play on Saturday, June 3, in the regional game. The opponent is not known at this point. The game will be played at Onondaga Community College, and first pitch is tentatively set for 1 p.m.