TROY — A major rivalry added another chapter tonight at Joe Bruno Stadium when Shenendehowa played Saratoga Springs in the Section II Class AA Semi Final. Despite leading after five innings, the Plainsmen were forced to walk it off in the seventh.
Shen’s Ben Lavery said, “Last year we got bumped out in the sectional semi final and it was a tough blow. So it was nice to get back and get over the hump this time.”
The man on the rubber for the Shenendehowa Plainsmen was Evan Jones, their right handed senior captain. It appeared that Jones would have trouble after his first three innings. Jones allowed 11 of the first 13 batters he faced to make contact, which resulted in four hits and an error. Jones settled down from that point on and finished the game with eight hits, four strikeouts, and three walks over six innings. He did not allow a run.
Nate Chudy was the opposite in the early portion of game. Chudy’s breaking stuff was there right from the first pitch. He fanned seven over his first five innings. Chudy ran into some trouble though in the fifth inning. He allowed a single right up the middle early in the first at bat to Evan Jones. Chudy then let a ball go high on a full count against Evan Bean to put runners on first and second with no outs. He made quick work of the next two batters, popping both out on two pitches including an athletic diving catch by catcher Ryan Dolan. He didn’t have the same luck with the next batter Ben Lavery who hit a rocket into the right center gap which allowed both Jones and Bean to score. Chudy left the game soon after with eight strikeouts and seven walks to go with his two earned runs.
An opportunity finally appeared for the Blue Streaks of Saratoga High in the seventh. After the Plainsmen went with Brendan Dissonell on the mound back to back singles by Dolan and Christian Kondo gave Saratoga new life in the seventh. A bunt by Luca Bonacio advanced the runners so that Nate Chudy could redeem himself and be the hero. Chudy a clean line drive to right field and Kondo blazed around from second and narrowly got home before the ball to tie the game.
Shen had their opportunity to win it in the bottom of the seventh. Patrick McGuire drew the lead off walk, the first of two that put the Plainsmen on first and second with one out. It was then that on a three one count, Jake Reinisch hit a weak line drive into shallow left field which allowed McGuire to score from second, winning the game.
“I was just trying to stay relaxed, keep the bat light in my hands… I was just looking for my pitch to hit,” said Reinisch.
The Shenendehowa Plainsmen will advance to the Section II championship game Saturday against the winner of Guilderland and Niskayuna which will be played Friday afternoon at two.
Ben Lavery said, “We can’t over complicate things. We just have to come in here and do what we were trained to do.”