Ballston Spa advances to Class AA title game

TROY — For the second straight day, Ballston Spa used a big inning to grab a playoff win. On Thursday night, it was the third inning in their successful effort to reach the sectional finals, doing it with a 11-1 victory against Shenendehowa at Joe Bruno Stadium.

The Scotties already had a 2-0 lead heading into the third frame but jumped out in a big way that inning. Luke Gold led off the inning with a single, and the second batter of the inning, Jake Manderson, promptly lifted a two-run home run over the left field fence to make it 4-0 in favor of Ballston Spa. Manderson had a huge game as he added a second home run in the sixth inning to make it 10-1 at that point. He finished the night with six RBIs.

“It feels great. We were in the game the whole time and we just kept putting more and more runs on them,” Manderson said.

Shen starter Mitch Wright gave up another two hits to end his night after just 2 1/3 innings. Reliever Brandon Roberts came in and gave up a two-run double to Rick Miller, the second batter he faced, to make it 6-0. The Plainsmen gave up a run on a wild pitch shortly after to make it 7-0 Scotties. All in all, they scored five runs on six hits in the third, extending their lead from two runs to seven runs.

“When you have a team like Shen, you have to get on them early and kind of create some doubt in their minds because once they get their wheels going they’re very tough to beat. We knew we had to come out early, strike first and then not just strike first but tack on,” Ballston Spa coach Curtis Nobles said.

Shen got on the board in the bottom of the third on a fielders’ choice off of Scotties starter Luke Gold but that ended up being all that they scored. Gold, who is usually a closer, had a great outing on the mound as he threw a complete game, giving up that lone run on five hits, striking out four and walking just three.

“I knew they’re a good team, and they were going to put balls in play, so I was trying to pitch to contact and use my defense to help me,” Gold said.

The Scotties had gotten their initial lead in the first inning, making it 2-0 before Shen even came to bat for the first time. The runs came off of Manderson and Donovan Rhoden delivering back-to-back RBI singles, part of a three-hit Ballston Spa first inning.

After the third inning, Shen, already down by a sizeable margin, struggled to get anything going on offense, not having a runner even get past second base for the remainder of the night.

“We happened to have a night where we were outplayed in a lot of facets of the game, credit’s all to Ballston Spa,” Shen head coach Greg Christodulu said.

This loss breaks Shenendehowa’s six-year streak of reaching the sectional final game. The last time they did not make it was 2011, and won the Section 2, Class AA tournament in 2013, 2014 and 2016.

Ballston Spa will now advance to the Class AA title game. They will be going for their first sectional championship since 1973, when they won a Class B title.

“We’re focused on the present, that’s been our go-to. We talk about winning the day, every single day. Not just games, but in practice, and we did that today,” Nobles said.

This year’s game will be played on Tuesday at Joe Bruno Stadium in Troy, where Ballston Spa will play the Blue Devils of Columbia. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.

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