Troy — For a high school student athlete, making it to a sectional final means everything to them. Putting all of that hard work and dedication during the off-season and throughout the season starts to pay off while being crowned champions means even more. It especially meant a lot to head coach Rico Frese and the rest of the Maple Hill baseball team as they won their first Section II Class C baseball title since 2009.
The Maple Hill entered the 2018 Section II Class C tournament with a lot on their shoulders. Being the number one overall seed while coming into last night’s game with a record of 16-5 meant they were the team to beat and it was championship or bust for these players. However, a tough task was in front of them in the hands of Canajoharie.
Canajoharie came into last night’s game with a record of 9-6 and was the tournament’s sixth seed. They came into the championship game fresh off wins over third seeded Waterford-Halfmoon in the quarterfinals and second seeded Rensselaer in the semifinals.
The game started off quite nicely for Canajoharie as they took a 1-0 after the top half of the first inning. However without hesitation, Maple Hill stormed back and took a 2-1 at the end of the first inning mostly due to Canajoharie’s three errors, two committed by infielders and one outfield pop up. With that 2-1 solely intact, Maple Hill never looked back.
“We’re not two or three guys, we have nine guys who contribute every single day,” Maple Hill catcher Nick Butler said after the game about being down early in the game but not folding under the pressure.
Maple Hill slowly built that lead up throughout the next two innings and eventually opened the flood gates in the fourth. Led by Tyler Hanrahan who finished the game with three hits while Butler and outfielder James Miller who had two hits a piece. Maple Hill ended up scoring five runs in that fourth inning and took a commanding 10-2 lead.
Maple Hill would keep scoring as they tacked on two more while the game ended in the sixth inning due to the mercy rule. Hanrahan pushed a sac fly to center field which allowed outfielder James Jung to tag up at third and score the winning run.
Pitching also played a big part of Maple Hill’s success as starting pitcher Alec Yager went all six innings and won his eighth decision without a loss giving up two runs on four hits.
After the game there wasn’t a lot of celebration from the Maple Hill players as they know there’s still work to be done. “We all just stay humble during it because we know we all have a lot more to do…we have a lot of games to play,” Butler added.
Head coach Rico Frese, who was obvious very pleased with the outcome of the game, didn’t really expect his team to punch out 12 runs and win by mercy rule. “Sectional runs are very precious…we try to get guys over and steal bases but I didn’t expect double-digit runs.” He also added, “When the lower half of our lineup contributes it makes us that much deeper…it’s more meaningful as a coach when a freshman [James Jung] who was just brought up scores the sectional winning run so it means a lot to me as a coach when that happens.”
Maple Hill will now play Lake George in the Class C-CC playoff game to determine who goes on to play in the New York State tournament. That game will take place at Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam on Tuesday with first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m.