Every baseball manager knows the importance of having an ace pitcher on the mound throwing strikes. But, when that ace also contributes with his bat, that team can be tough to beat. Wednesday afternoon, Ballston Spa’s Zach Durfee pitched six innings, allowing only three hits while striking out eight. On the offensive end, he had five hits at the plate to lead an 18 hit attack by the Scotties as they triumphed over the Amsterdam High School varsity baseball team 25-3 at Shuttleworth Park, spoiling the Rams’ home opener.
“Zach Durfee is a go to guy,” Ballston Spa head coach Curtis Nobles said. “You saw that out there today.”
Durfee limited the Rams to three hits over the first six innings including a first inning, one-out double to Dale Stanavich, and back-to-back singles to Jake Rodecker and Brendan McGillin leading off the second. But each time, he pitched out of the danger by throwing strikes which helped retire the Rams with only one runner managing to cross home plate. Amsterdam’s lone run off Durfee came in the bottom of the third without the benefit of a hit when Bryan Stanavich led off the frame with one of only three walks issued by Durfee. Four batters then got on base after a sacrifice fly off the bat of Rodecker. Durfee settled in though and snagged a one-hopper off the bat of McGillin to end the inning. The senior, who is also a standout center fielder, struck out the side in order to end the fourth, and didn’t allow a ball hit out of the infield in the fifth and sixth while fanning six, and allowed only one base runner on a two-out walk to Ben Rhodes in the fifth.
Durfee also did a lot of damage with his bat. As the Scotties’ lead-off hitter, Durfee singled and scored in the top of the second against Rams starting hurler Kyle Sherlock, and followed that with a two-out double to start a rally in the top of the third helping Ballston Spa take a 7-0 lead after three frames. Durfee finished with five hits including two doubles, scored three runs and drove in three.
“To me Zach Durfee is one of the better players in the Suburban Council,” Coach Nobles said of the senior who played in this past Summer’s Empire Prospect Games as a member of the Class of 2016 team. “The sky is the limit for Zach Durfee.”
Durfee got plenty of help from his teammates as Ballston Spa scored its first seven runs on two-out rallies. Shortstop Luke Gold’s double with two out in the first brought home Ian Graham and Ben Ellsworth for a 2-0 lead. A single by Ellsworth scored Jared Winkle with two down in the second to start another rally capped off by Aaron Hinman being hit by a pitch, and a bases-loaded walk to Gold as the Scotties opened up a 5-0 lead. Durfee’s two-out double followed by Jake Fox getting hit by a pitch and a free pass to Graham, led to Ellsworth’s two-run single, boosting the Ballston Spa lead to 7-0. Sherlock gave up six hits and five walks, and had tree hit batters.
“We didn’t make pitches and they did,” Amsterdam Head Coach Brian Spagnola said. “We knew we had to throw strikes, but we gave up walks and made errors, and they scored runs with two outs. Against a good team like that, you can’t do that. They did what they had to do, and we didn’t.”
Jordan Graser took the mound for the Rams in the fourth and fifth innings and fared better than Sherlock posting the only scoreless frame against Ballston Spa in the fourth and allowed only one run in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Fox that scored Jared Winkle. Ballston Spa put up three more runs in the sixth getting a run scoring single from Josh Thompson and a two run single off the bat of Jake Durfee. The Scotties built an 11-1 lead heading into the seventh inning and put the game well out of reach with a 14 run outburst in the final frame. Ben Rhodes’ two-run double with two out in the bottom of the seventh off reliever Grady Gawrys rounded out the scoring. Amsterdam was held to three runs on four hits. Ballston Spa pounded out 18 hits and took advantage of 12 walks issued by Amsterdam pitching, and seven fielding errors.
“Our approach is to play 21 outs,” Coach Nobles said. “We knew how good Amsterdam can be when they get it going in their park. They have a good group of kids. You can’t give away outs. We grinded it out each at bat, and our pitcher kept throwing strikes. We got it going today.”
Ben Ellsworth had three singles and scored three runs for Ballston Spa. Josh Thompson drove in a pair of runs and scored twice contributing two singles. Ryan Salerno belted an RBI double in the seventh, and Jake Devito drove in a pair with a single for Ballston Spa.
“I expect us to bounce back,” Coach Spagnola said.
Amsterdam is back in action Thursday with a 4:30pm start at Shuttleworth Park against Watervliet. The Rams will also host county rival Fonda-Fultonville in a 2pm start on Saturday. Amsterdam begins play in the Foothills Council with a 4:30pm start at Shuttleworth Park against the Hudson Falls Tigers on Monday.