Braves capture Class B crown

TROY – The Fonda-Fultonville Braves baseball team has a new title – Section II champion.

On Wednesday night at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium the Braves walked away with a 3-2 victory over Voorheesville in the championship game of the Section II Class B tournament to claim the team’s first sectional crown since 1982.

“It feels awesome. It has been a long time coming,” Fonda-Fultonville coach Rick Palumbo said. “We have gotten close so many times and finally we got over the hump. To be able to come back and win like that says a lot about our kids. I think we just out waited their pitcher.”

The fifth-seeded Braves trailed seventh-seeded Voorheesville 2-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh and were down to their final out with a runner on first.

Anthony Sinicropi popped up a 2-1 pitch in foul territory that Blackbirds first baseman Alex Minnick circled under but lost his footing and dropped the ball.

“That was an omen to me that when he dropped the ball it gave our best hitter another chance to do something,” Palumbo said.

Sinicropi drew a walk and joined Luke Calkins, who walked with one out, on the bases.

Zak Shaw earned a walk on four pitches to join them and load the bases.

Voorheesville starter Nick Chiseri fell behind 3-0 to Pat Hart before battling back to work the count full. Hart showed patience at the plate as Chiseri threw ball four to walk in the tying run.

Kristian Singh came on in relief for the Blackbirds to face Baylee Hall.

Singh worked the count full before Hall fouled off a pair of pitches to stay alive at the plate before drawing a walk, allowing Sinicropi to walk down the third baseline to give the Braves a 3-2 sectional championship victory.

“I just told every hitter that came up to just enjoy the moment and have fun and they really did,” Palumbo said.

The tone was set for the game on the very first at-bat.

Voorheesville leadoff hitter David Cardona and Shaw, the Braves’ starting pitcher, battled through a 12-pitch at-bat. Cardona fouled off six pitches with a full count before Shaw got a pitch past him for the strikeout.

“He fought me off and after that I knew it was going to be a long game,” Shaw said.

The senior right-hander followed with strike outs of Chiseri and Singh to get out of the inning.

Sinicropi collected a single in the bottom of the first off Chiseri, who struck out 12 in his no-hitter against the Braves on May 15, and Shaw followed with a walk but were left stranded.

The Blackbirds got their first hit of the game in the top of the third.

Alex Paigo singled and Minnix popped out to right field. The Braves turned a double-play on Cardona’s grounder to short to quickly end the threat.

Voorheesville broke the scoreless tie in the top of the fourth.

Chiseri worked the count for a lead-off walk and Jared Paigo connected for a single. Paigo ended up on second as the throw to third ahead of Chiseri was not in time.

Chiseri and Paigo raced home on a throwing error by Braves shortstop Zack Valachovic on Mike Hennessy’s hard-hit grounder to give the Blackbirds a 2-0 advantage.

The Braves got a run back in the bottom of the fifth when Brandon Baker delivered a one-out single to center and stole second.

Calkins followed with a walk and Kevin Myers pushed a two-strike bunt down the first base line and beat the throw. Baker was running on the play and raced home to cut the Blackbirds’ lead to 2-1.

Sinicropi was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but Voorheesville got out of the jam catching Calkins in a run down between third and home on a missed squeeze play attempt.

Shaw kept the Blackbirds off the base paths to set up the dramatic finish.

“It was two great pitchers out there and we just happened to be lucky enough to come out on top,” Palumbo said. “Zak had a rough fourth inning, but he stayed on course and was able to get back on track and fortunately we were able to get some runs for him.”

Shaw finished the game allowing two hits and striking out eight. Chiseri fired a four-hitter, striking out six and walking eight.

Sinicropi, Myers, Hart and Baker all collected singles for the Braves, while Calkins and Shaw drew three walks apiece.

Jared and Alex Paigo both singled to account for the Voorheesville hits.

Fonda-Fultonville (13-9 overall) advances to the B-BB playoff game, where they will meet Schalmont in a 1 p.m. contest at The College of Saint Rose’s Plumeri Sports Complex.

Schalmont advanced to the playoff game with a 6-1 victory over Johnstown in the Class BB title game Wednesday at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.

Fonda-Fultonville 3, Voorheesville 2

Voorheesville000 200 0 – 2 2 1

Fonda-Fultonville000 010 2 – 3 4 2

Chiseri, Singh (7) and J. Paigo; Shaw and Sinicropi.