Johnstown clinches sectional spot

JOHNSTOWN – The magic number for most teams in the Foothills Council is 7. That is the number of league wins used as a guideline by schools to qualify for postseason play.

Monday night, under the lights at Johnstown High School, the Johnstown Sir Bills achieved that goal with a 6-1 victory over inter-city rival Gloversville.

“I tell our guys we need to be .500 to go and this locked it up for them,” Johnstown coach Aaron Mraz said. “It puts us in good position if we can come out and play well the next couple of games and get ready for Scotia. But we can’t look ahead because Broadalbin-Perth is a scrappy team and will come to play.”

Johnstown (8-5 overall, 7-3 Foothills) rode a late-season hot streak into the Section II Class B championship game against Schalmont before falling to the Sabres 14-3.

The game got off to a shaky start for Johnstown starter Richie Lee as Gloversville (2-11 overall, 1-8 Foothills) loaded the bases with only one out.

Mraz paid a visit to the mound to check on his pitcher.

“I didn’t talk to him about pitching,” he said. “I just talked to him about the situation we were in with walks and stuff. I asked him what was wrong and he told me he was having trouble finding it. I said, ‘You need to figure it out because we need to get out of this situation with minimal damage.’ That was all it took.”

Lee struck out the next two batters to get out of the jam.

The Sir Bills gave their pitcher the support he needed as Ryan Auty and Dan Nellis opened the bottom of the first with back-to-back singles with Auty scoring on a one-out RBI single by Jon Heroth.

Lee drew a walk to load the bases with two outs, however a botched pick-off play at second allowed Nellis to score and give the Sir Bills a quick 2-0 lead.

Lee thanked his team for the support by setting the Huskies down in order in the top of the second.

The Sir Bills threatened again in the bottom of the second with Joey Henderson walking and Steven Forker lacing a single to center. They pulled off a double steal before Auty walked to load the bases with no outs.

The Huskies got the big play they needed when Ben Chase snagged a hard line drive off Nellis’s bat and fired to first to a double play to help end the scoring threat.

The Huskies broke up the shut out bid in the top of the third when Zack Frazier singled and advanced to second on an error before coming around to score on Austin Luci’s RBI single to center to put the game at 2-1.

Johnstown regained its two-run advantage in the bottom of the third when Heroth singled and came around to score with the help of Gloversville fielding error to put the game at 3-1.

Johnstown tacked on two more runs in the fifth inning when Lee and Adam Caputo singled and walked respectively before Forker doubled to drive them in for a 5-1 edge.

Errors again cost Gloversville in the bottom of the sixth as Matt Szurek reached on a fielding error, advanced on a well executed hit-and-run single by Heroth and scored on a dropped fly ball, the seventh Gloversville error of the game, off the bat of Connor Rodecker to achieve the 6-1 final score.

“We had lapses of communication in the field but those are the little things that have hurt us all year,” Gloversville coach Mike DeMagistris said. “I told the guys they add up in a game they are going to hurt you. That is what happened to us tonight.”

Gloversville batters finished with four hits, all singles, with Frazier getting two of them along with one apiece from Luci and Zak Funk.

Lee settled down to strike out 12 batters in the complete-game victory.

Forker delivered a double, a single and two RBIs, while Heroth finished with three hits. Lee Auty and Nellis all had one hit apiece.

Johnstown will take to the road for a Foothills Council game at Broadalbin-Perth Wednesday afternoon before return to their home diamond Friday night against the Patriots.

Gloversville will travel to play Scotia-Glenville Wednesday before hosting the Tartans Friday night at Husky Field.

Johnstown 6, Gloversville 1

Gloversville001 000 0 – 1 4 7

Johnstown201 021 x – 6 8 1

Putnam, Chase (5) and Luci; Lee and Caputo.