TROY – Two area baseball teams will head to Joe Bruno Stadium to play for Section II titles today.
Both will face familiar opponents.
Johnstown will face Schalmont in a title game for the second straight year, this time facing the Sabres for the Class BB championship, while Fonda-Fultonville will face Colonial Council rival Voorheesville for the Class B title.
The winners of the Class B and BB titles will meet Saturday in the Class B-BB playoff game at the Plumeri Sports Complex in Albany at 1 p.m.
Class BB Championship
No. 6 Johnstown (14-7 overall) vs. No. 1 Schalmont (21-1 overall), 7 p.m.
When the Sir Bills and Sabres met for the Class B title last year, the game was decided shortly after it started.
Schalmont scored 10 times in the bottom of the first inning and sent 14 batters to the plate on its way to a 14-3 win.
That loss has Johnstown looking to redeem itself in today’s rematch, one that it has been looking for since last May.
“I know a lot of our guys are looking forward to playing them again,” Johnstown coach Aaron Mraz said.
Johnstown, which is seeking its first sectional title since 1968, is hoping that last year’s trip to Joe Bruno Stadium will help it this time around
“I think our experience from last year will be a great help for us,” Mraz said. “I don’t think we’ll have the butterflies we had last year. We should be comfortable going into the setting.”
Coming into today’s game, the Sir Bills have won six of their last seven contests.
The latest win came in Saturday’s semifinal, as Johnstown rolled past second-seeded Saratoga Central Catholic, 12-3, at Albany’s Bleecker Stadium.
Senior shortstop Matt Szurek had two home runs on his way to a 4-for-5 effort at the plate that included six RBIs and four runs scored for Johnstown. Dan Nellis, Adam Caputo, Richie Lee and Joe Henderson all finished with two hits for the Sir Bills in the win over the Saints.
In addition to solid hitting, Johnstown also got a strong effort on the mound from Lee and Ryan Auty against Saratoga Catholic
Lee earned the win, allowing four hits, striking out seven and walking two in four innings of work. Auty pitched three innings of scoreless relief, keeping the Saints hitless, striking out two and walking one.
The semifinal win was far more comfortable for the Sir Bills, who played a pair of close games in their first two postseason contests.
Johnstown opened the Class BB tourney with a 2-1 win over 11th-seeded Cohoes, getting a bases-loaded bunt from Szurek to score Henderson in the bottom of the seventh.
In the quarterfinals, Johnstown trailed 5-2 at third-seeded Hudson after four innings before scoring four times in the top of the fifth on its way to an 8-5 win.
After mustering just five hits against Cohoes, the Sir Bills had 11 hits against Hudson and 14 against Saratoga Catholic.
“We’ve been swinging the bats well and making good contact,” Mraz said. “We’ve worked on a little bit of a game plan. We’re hoping to get to them early. We want to make their pitchers work and make them throw a lot of pitches.”
In its road to the title game, Schalmont has posted 4-0 wins over No. 9 seed Cairo-Durham and No. 4 seed Albany Academy.
In Saturday’s semifinals, Greg Musk pitched a three-hitter for the Sabres in a win over Albany Academy. John Pascarella had two hits and an RBI for Schalmont, while Joe Wignot had three hits.
The win was the 17th straight win for Schalmont, which suffered its only loss of the season, 2-0, to Albany Academy on April 22.
In the quarterfinals, Matt Capovani pitched a four-hitter for the Sabres against Cairo-Durham. Brion Dufek and Chris Hamilton each had two hits for Schalmont.
“I’m just trying to keep our confidence up,” Mraz said. “I want us to believe in ourselves. We’re the underdogs and we’re not expected to win. We’ve got nothing to lose.”
Class B Championship
No. 5 Fonda-Fultonville (12-9 overall) vs. No. 6 Voorheesville (12-10 overall), 4 p.m.
After ending the regular season with five straight losses, the Braves have turned things around in the postseason.
Fonda-Fultonville has yet to surrender a run in the Class B tournament, blanking fourth-seeded Stillwater 7-0 in the quarterfinals, and posting a 10-0 win over top-seeded Corinth in the semifinals.
“Our bats are finally starting to come to life,” Fonda-Fultonville coach Rick Palumbo said.
The Braves had 10 hits in Saturday’s semifinal win over Corinth at Veterans Memorial Park in Saratoga Springs.
Zak Shaw had two doubles and two RBIs for Fonda-Fultonville, while Pat Hart had two singles and three RBIs. Rob O’Kosky had a double and two RBIs for Fonda-Fultonville, and Anthony Sinicropi had three singles and an RBI.
Hart also earned the win on the mound for the Braves, pitching a complete game, accumulating 11 strikeouts and allowing just four hits on his way to shutting out the Tomahawks.
In the quarterfinals, Shaw, a senior righthander, picked up the complete-game victory for the Braves, striking out 11 and scattering six hits against Stillwater.
Brandon Baker was 2-for-3 with an RBI for the Braves, while Baylee Hall connected for two singles. Luke Calkins, Rob O’Kosky and Zach Valachovic also had singles for FFCS.
“We played well in the postseason,” Palumbo said. “We didn’t finish the season strong, but we’ve turned it around at the right time.”
Both Voorheesville and Fonda-Fultonville went 7-8 in Colonial Council play this season.
“Our league is a tough league,” Palumbo said. “There are no laughers or easy wins. I think playing in the Colonial Council has made us pretty battle tested.”
In their two regular-season meetings, Fonda-Fultonville and Voorheesville each posted wins on the other’s home field.
“Our kids feel they can compete with [Voorheesville],” Palumbo said. “But I’m sure they feel the same way about us.”
FFCS won 6-0 at Voorheesville on April 29 before Voorheesville posted a 4-0 win at Fonda on May 15.
In the most recent contest, Nick Chiseri threw a no-hitter to lead Voorheesville to a win over Fonda-Fultonville.
Chiseri struck out 12 on his way to the complete-game win for the Blackbirds.
“They have a tough pitcher in Chiseri. He no-hit us last time,” Palumbo said. “We hit them during a tough week for us.”
Kristian Singh, Alex Paigo and Joe Guerette each had an RBI for Voorheesville.
“Zak [Shaw] was coming off an injury the last time we played them, so I think they’ll see a different Zak Shaw this time around,” Palumbo said.
In the first meeting April 29, Baylee Hall threw a one-hitter to lead Fonda-Fultonville to a rain-shortened, five-inning win over Voorheesville.
Shaw had a triple, single and two RBIs for the Braves, while Baker had three singles.
Calkins and Hall each had singles for FFCS (5-3 overall, 3-3 Colonial), while O’Kosky added an RBI.
Mike Hennessy had the lone hit for Voorheesville.
The Blackbirds, who won the Class C title in 2012 and 2013 before moving up to Class B this season, advanced to the finals with a 4-0 win over third-seeded Hoosick Falls in the quarterfinals and a 5-2 win over second-seeded Chatham in the semifinals.
“They’ve been there before and they’ve won the Class C tournament two years in a row,” Palumbo said. “I’m sure they feel very comfortable at Joe Bruno Stadium.”
While Voorheesville will be seeking its third straight sectional title, the Braves will be making their first trip to Joe Bruno Stadium since losing to Saratoga Catholic in the 2009 Class B title game.
“I don’t think my kids will be overwhelmed by the setting,” Palumbo said. “I think they’re looking forward to it.”