Regional baseball: Sabres go down swinging
ALBANY Ogdensburg Free Academy senior Brenton LaRose threw one curveball during Tuesday’s New York state Class B regional baseball final with Schalmont, and Andrew Cote drilled it for a home run.
“No more of that,” LaRose said after the Devils edged the Sabres, 3-1, at Bleecker Stadium. “I went with fastballs the rest of the way.”
LaRose gave up two hits after Cote’s second-inning blast and piled up 23 strikeouts, and Andrew Cole clubbed a two-run homer in the ninth as the Devils ended Schalmont’s finest season.
The 6-foot-3 LaRose struck out the side six times, and fanned 10 more batters than he ever had before.
“You get off the bus after four hours and throw BBs like that, that’s incredible,” said Schalmont coach Bob Anderson. “It’s, ‘Here it is, hit it.’ ”
Cote’s homer sailed over the fence in right-center leading off the second. Jimmy Hamilton singled to right in the fourth for Schalmont’s second hit, and Greg Musk doubled to deep left in the eighth.
“I wanted to throw strikes and get ahead,” said the soft-spoken LaRose, who has committed to Sacred Heart. “I’m very happy with the results.”
“He hits locations and throws hard,” Cole said of his teammate. “They just couldn’t hit it.”
Schalmont (20-5) topped Beekmantown, 10-3, for its first regional win in program history Monday and captured its first Section II title since 2006 with a 14-3 triumph over Johnstown last Wednesday. The Sabres also claimed their second straight Colonial Council Patriot Division title, and prevailed in their annual Bruce Bouck Memorial Tournament.
Anderson was trying to join the late Bruce Bouck as Schalmont’s second coach to reach 300 wins.
“I told the kids, ‘This is going to sting for a while, but let’s remember the good things we’ve done, and let’s hang our hat on it,’ ” said Anderson. “I’m very proud of these guys. This is the furthest Schalmont ever went.”
Schalmont’s season ended when Joe Wignot drew the Sabres’ fourth walk with two down in the ninth, and LaRose caught Tyler Smith looking at strike three. In the eighth, Musk’s double was followed by a pair of strikeouts.
“He’s been a bulldog for me all year,” OFA coach Tom Pinkerton said of LaRose, who improved to 6-1. “Usually, the guys who have great success mix things up. He’s done it mostly with heat.”
LaRose issued a leadoff walk and a one-out walk in the third before fanning a pair. He also struck out two to end the fourth after Hamilton singled with one down and pinch-runner Brion Dufek moved up on a passed ball.
“It was tough to put the ball in play on him,” said Anderson. “When he had to make a pitch, he did it.”
Hamilton took his first loss of the season (8-1). The Colonial Council co-MVP gave up four hits, struck out 10 and walked four. Hamilton left in the ninth after Zack Sharpe led off with a double to deep center, and Cole took his next pitch over the fence in left.
“I’ve tried for home runs before, and it didn’t work out,” said Cole, OFA’s cleanup batter. “When Sharpe hit the double, I just wanted to make contact.”
Hamilton ended the fifth, sixth and seventh with strikeouts, stranding a runner in each inning, and fanned another batter to finish a perfect eighth.
“He elevated a little bit. He tired,” Anderson said of the senior righty, who no-hit Watervliet in the regular season and picked up complete-game sectional wins against Catskill and Johnstown. “We wouldn’t have been here without him. It was win with him or lose with him at that point.”
Dakota Brady reached on a one-out error in the OFA fifth, stole second and took third on a flyout. Pat Cosmo singled to left for the first hit off Hamilton as the Devils (Section X, 15-2) tied the game, 1-1.
Freshman Chris Hamilton led off the Sabres’ fifth with a walk, and when Kevin Paskevich moved him up on a sacrifice bunt, it marked the first out recorded that was not a strikeout by LaRose. The OFA ace ended that inning with two strikeouts.
OFA stole four bases before Schalmont catcher Anthony Yezzo gunned a runner down on a seventh-inning attempt.
“That’s only the second time we’ve been thrown out stealing all year. That was an unbelievable play on his [Yezzo’s] part,” said Pinkerton. “We were 78 for 79 coming in.”
OFA 000 010 002 — 3 4 0
Schalmont 010 000 000 — 1 3 1
B. LaRose and Taylor; J. Hamilton and Yezzo.