Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Luck of the Draw: Columbia vs. Ballston Spa (Class AA baseball championship), 5/29/18

This is what's known as saving the best for last.

Section 2 saw its largest crowd of the season at Joe Bruno Stadium tonight, so much so that it felt like a Valleycats game, and the New York-Penn League season doesn't start for 2 1/2 weeks.  The Class AA title game already had a tough act to follow, after Queensbury reclaimed the Class A title with a 5-2 win over Amsterdam in the first half of the double-header.

Most of the fans came to root for 7th seeded Columbia, out of neighboring East Greenbush, against 5th seeded Ballston Spa. Everyone was treated to a pitchers' duel between Columbia's Danny Watson and Ballston Spa's Michael Poirer, which meant runs and hits were at a premium.

It was the Scotties who drew first blood in the fourth inning. Junior catcher Jake Manderson, one of the heroes of Ballston Spa's semi-final upset of Shenendehowa, opened the frame with a single. After Chance Checca was hit by a pitch, Mack Bumford was credited with an infield single when it should've been an error. Such has been the generosity of the official scorers in the sectional tournaments in all classes. Manderson scored to give the Scotties a 1-0 lead.

However, Poirer couldn't hold the lead. In the fifth, Nic Stagnitta scored Jack Hernandez with a two out single to tie the game. Next inning, Carmen Erno scored on a base hit by Willie Terrell. Matt Wimmer tried to score on the same play, but was thrown out at the plate by about two feet. Terrell, who appeared to tweak his knee in his first at-bat, was lifted briefly for a pinch runner, but returned in the next half-inning. Matt LaHera iced it for Columbia with a sacrifice fly in the seventh off Luke Gold, who had relieved Poirer with one out. Poirer finished with two earned runs, three walks, and eight strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.

Watson, meanwhile, was just as brilliant in going the distance, giving up the lone run in the fifth while striking out eight himself.

Maybe seven is a lucky number after all.

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