It all comes down to making plays. Gloversville catcher Austin Luci did just that completing an inning ending double play early, and throwing out the last two Amsterdam baserunners late leading the Huskies varsity baseball team past the Rams 5-4 Monday night at Shuttleworth Park in the Foothills Council regular season finale for both teams.
“He’s a senior and stepped up for us,” Gloversville head coach Mike DeMagistris said. “He threw out a couple of runners and came up big for us.”
Trailing 1-0 with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the second inning, Gloversville pitcher Ben Chase fielded a one hopper off the bat of Brett Flint and fired the ball back to Luci who stepped on the plate forcing Kyle Sherlock for one out, and then pivoted and threw a strike to first baseman Sam Salvagni beating Flint by a half step to complete the double play. Gloversville responded with some patient hitting and scored their first run without the benefit of a base hit.
Salvagni reached base on a dropped third strike and an error to lead off the top of the fourth inning. Luci followed, getting on after being hit by pitch. Brad Mulligan bunted himself aboard to load the bases for Chase, who drew a walk to bring in Salvagni and tie the score. Amsterdam starting pitcher Kyle Sherlock and the Amsterdam defense denied any further scoring chances with third baseman Ben Rhodes chasing down a fly ball in foul territory off the bat of Zak Frazier for the first out, and Flint starting a step and throw double play at second base via a grounder from Antthony Oathout. The Amsterdam defense provided momentum for their offense that had to manufacture runs in the bottom half of the inning.
The bottom of the fourth was nearly a mirror image of the top half, except the Rams did get a hit. One out into the frame, Bryan Stanavich walked and stole a pair of bases before scoring on a passed ball. Tony Isabel also reached on a free pass and followed Stanavich, but scored on a wild pitch. There were two outs when Flint and Rhodes both reached without a swing of the bat giving Kyle Agresta a chance to produce the Rams only run batted in with a hit. Agresta’s single to center field scored Flint giving the Rams a 4-1 lead. But, just when it looked like the Rams were about to turn the corner and come away with a win, the ball bounced Gloversville’s way.
Sherlock appeared to be in control after getting a pair of fly ball outs and striking out Salvagni swinging on three straight pitches to end the top of the fifth, but the control problems surfaced again in the sixth as he walked Luci and plunked Mulligan ahead of Chase, who singled to load the bases. Ben Rhodes relieved Sherlock and induced Frazier’s grounder to Flint that forced Chase at second base allowing Luci to score cutting the lead to 4-2 and then things got a little ugly for the Rams.
Rhodes walked Oathout loading them up again for Huskies left fielder Cam Stewart who delivered a single to left that easilly scored Mulligan, but the ball got loose in the AHS outfield for an error giving both Frazier and Oathout a chance to score and putting Gloversville out in front 5-4. Rhodes then walked Justin Putnam putting runners on the corners with only one out, and giving Amsterdam coach Brian Spagnola a reason to reach for his bullpen once again this time calling upon Flint to stop the rally. Flint responded striking out Anthony Ponticello, and then got Salvagni to pop out to third, but the damage had already been done.
“I had a feeling we would come out flat, sloppy,” Coach Spagnola said. “Kyle struggled with his command and you can’t do that and expect to win. They wanted it more than us.”
Amsterdam still had six outs to work with, but Luci eliminated the last two Amsterdam baserunners. Dale Stanavich led off the home half of the sixth with a single, Amsterdam’s fourth and last hit of the game. DeMagistris then turned to his bullpen bringing in Putnam to face Flint. Stanavich broke for second, but Luci’s throw was on target to shortstop Frazier, who tagged out Stanavich for the first out of the inning. Flint then popped up the ball near home plate that Luci graabbed for the second out. Putnam retired Rhodes on a grounder back to mound ending the Amsterdam threat. Antthony Noce drew a walk between a pair of fly ball outs in the bottom of the seventh, but when the Rams catcher tried to swipe second and get into scoring position, Luci denied AHS once again, throwing out Noce to end the game.
Coach Spagnola said the team struggled with batting, as the Rams squad couldn’t put together enough runs despite nine walks by Gloversville pitching. “Give them credit. They threw us out late a couple of times to earn the win.”
Mulligan and Stewart each had a pair of singles to account for four of Gloversville’s five hits. Chase had a single and reached base four times. The Huskies drew five walks and benefited from three hit batters and had a total of 18 runners on base.
“We were just trying to get runners on any way we could,” Coach DeMagistris said. “We were on them all night, and then Putnam comes in and shuts the door. I told our guys only six teams have qualified for sectionals. We’re trying to play our way in. Amsterdam is a very good team. We’ve played them a couple of times, and that Rohodes kid can really swing a bat.”
Rhodes made contact three times for Amsterdam but reached only on a walk in the Rams three-run fourth. Rhode’s teammate Kyle Agresta had half of the Rams hits with a double and a single. Brian Cranker had a single in the fifth and scored Amsterdam’s first run in the bottom of the second inning after leading off with a walk and coming around on Tony Isabel’s ground out.
The game was also the last regular season home contest for six Amsterdam seniors who were honored with their parents before the game. Brett Flint, Tony Isabel, Brady McGillin, Anthony Noce, Kyle Agresta, and Brian Cranker are all part of the Class of 2015.
Amsterdam had already wrapped up first place in the Foothills Council South division and will play Queensbury, the first place team from the North division on Thursday at East Field in Glens Falls to decide the league title. The Rams and Huskies will both await the seedings for the Class A sectionals that begin next week.
(Photos by Scott Mulford)