Johnstown to face Schalmont for Section II Class B crown

TROY – The Johnstown Sir Bills will attempt to end a 45-year drought today when they take on Schalmont for the Section II Class B championship.

The fourth-seeded Sabres defeated top-seeded Chatham 6-0 to reach the title game that is scheduled to be played at 4 p.m. today at Joe Bruno Stadium on the campus of Hudson Valley Community College.

The sixth-seeded Sir Bills advanced to the championship game by defeating No. 7 Hudson 8-1 Tuesday night at Veteran’s Park in Saratoga Springs.

“The closest we got [since I have been coach] was three or four years ago when we made it this far and got beat by Schalmont,” Johnstown coach Aaron Mraz said. “We are looking forward to it and it has been a fun ride.”

The teams met in a Class B sectional semi-final game in 2008 with the Sabres picking up the victory.

“Schalmont is going to be competitive,” Mraz said. “They are used to being there every year so they know what it is like. This is a taste for us that we are not really used to but I don’t think these kids know how to lose.”

Joe Nellis, who struck out 14 in Tuesday’s 1-hit complete game victory, said the turning point for the Sir Bills this season came in the second-week of May.

“Our season turned when we lost the two games to Scotia,” he said. “We learned more from those two games than we did any other games all year. We cannot get down on ourselves. We have to stay on top of things, be aggressive and keep talking all through the game. Ever since then we have been aggressive and getting ahead early in games.”

Since then, Johnstown has strung together six-straight victories en route to its trip to the sectional championship game.

“We watched them [Schalmont] for a bit before we played,” Mraz said. “They can hit and have some big guys who can put the bat on the ball.”

Mraz said he will hand the ball to Connor Rodecker to start today’s game.

“He pitched a great game against Queensbury who is a great hitting team,” Mraz said. “We just need Connor to throw strikes and get ahead. If the kids keep hitting the ball like they have been lately we will be competitive.”