TROY — Down 5-2 in the sixth inning, Lake George used clutch hitting to take a 6-5 lead and eventually carry it to a 9-6 victory over Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons on Friday night at Joe Bruno Stadium in the Class CC championship game.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Bishop Gibbons rallied to take a three-run lead. The first run that gave them the lead came courtesy of a sacrifice fly by Vinny Sorrentino. The next batter, Christian Baaki, came through in a big way as he ripped a two-run single that gave the Golden Knights a 5-2 lead.
Lake George did not waste any time coming and rallying back. The middle of the Warrior order came through as first it was Jack Kelleher and Michael Johnson hitting back-to-back doubles that combined to plate three runs and tie the game. Then, Sean Butkowski came up clutch with an RBI single that gave them a 6-5 lead, one that they did not give up the rest of the night.
“It’s kind of a shock right now. Not a shock that we could put up runs like that, but to be down 5-2 with our backs against the wall (and come back),” Lake George head coach Erik Hoover said.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Warriors were in trouble. Two of the first three Bishop Gibbons hitters reached base against Lake George reliever Nick Hoffis, putting runners on first and third with one out.
He came up extremely clutch, striking out two straight Gibbons hitters to end the inning and the threat, keeping their title hopes alive.
“He just comes in in these situations and he holds it where it is. He gets us out of huge jams and without him I don’t know where we’d be,” Hoover added.
He ended up closing out the game as well and it was a surprise that he came out as during his at-bat in the top of the seventh he was hit in the lower chest area trying to lay down a bunt and was down for several minutes. The first two Golden Knights hitters of the inning reached and he gave up a run but after that he shut them down.
“I had to finish this game. When I started walking kids I was getting a little nervous but once Hoover came out and settled me down I knew I had to finish it off,” Hoffis said.
Lake George had added three runs to make it 9-5 in the top of the sixth inning which gave Hoffis some room to work with in the bottom half of the seventh.
With the win Friday, Lake George wins its first sectional title since 2002. They are not a lock to go to the state tournament as they have to play Class C champion Maple Hill in the C-CC playoff. Maple Hill won the Class C title Friday afternoon with a win over Canajoharie.
“That’s going to be tough,” Hoover said. “(Maple Hill coach) Rico (Frese) is a hell of a coach, he’s going to have his guys ready to go and we’ll do the same. We got Michael Johnson ready and coming back to start, and we’ll see how it is at Shuttleworth.”
The game will be played on Tuesday at Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam, and first pitch is set for 7 p.m.
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