By: Aidan Joly
A late rally that simply ended up being not enough concluded Saratoga varsity baseball’s season and sent Shenendehowa to the sectional final, as the Plainsmen beat the Blue Streaks on Saturday afternoon at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium in Troy in the Class AA semifinals by a final score of 5-3.
Shen picked up a barrage of hits early on and took an early 2-0 lead in the contest behind five hits in the first two innings with seven baserunners. Joe Palko drove in the first run of the game to give the Plainsmen a lead that they never gave up even though Saratoga kept the game within reach throughout most of the afternoon.
Shenendehowa would extend the lead to 4-1 by the sixth inning when the Blue Streaks began to threat and liven up the bats which had been quiet until then. Three straight hits and two runs to make it a one-run game was enough for Shenendehowa starter Brendan Spulnick to come out of the game, and JV callup Brendan Disonell entered the game with four outs to go. He got the first two hitters he faced to both fly out and then ended another threat in the seventh as the Blue Streaks put two runners on, but it was to no avail as Disonell came up big with a strikeout to end the game.
“(Disonell) was very effective on JV, we were getting good reports every time he pitched. We knew he was a battler, he battled every time he was out there, and he throws strikes,” Shenendehowa head coach Greg Christodulu said. “When a kid throws strikes in this situation, you got to put him in the game.”
Another key issue for Saratoga was the problems early in the ballgame that starter Zach Vavasour faced. He was pulled in the third inning after giving up two runs on six hits in two-plus frames, putting momentum on Shen’s side despite effective relief pitching from Quinn Jones, who stepped in after Vavasour was removed from the game.
“We did not keep them off balance in the beginning,” Saratoga head coach Andy Cuthbertson said. “Giving (Shen) the opportunity to sit on what they were looking for and put the ball in play, they took advantage of us.”
Shenendehowa tacked on an insurance run in the final inning and held off Saratoga in the last inning.
This loss will end Saratoga’s season in the same game it did last season, the sectional semifinals.
This win will allow Shenendehowa to play in the Class AA final for the fifth consecutive year, this year doing it as the eight seed. In the AA final, they will take on Niskayuna, who won their semifinal game over La Salle. That game will be played on Thursday, May 25 at Joe Bruno Stadium in Troy. Start time is set for 7 p.m.