BY MICHAEL KELLY
NISKAYUNA — A collection of missed opportunities left the Niskayuna baseball team playing the what-if game with itself about Wednesday’s Suburban Council contest against Guilderland.
“Just a couple bounces one way and the game can go the other way,” said Niskayuna first baseman Zack LeBlanc, whose Silver Warriors fell to the Dutchmen, 10-5.
Niskayuna (1-2, 1-3) left 11 runners on base in the loss. The Silver Warriors loaded the bases in both the second and fifth innings — and scored one run between those chances.
“Bottom line is that we needed to do a better job at the plate,” said Niskayuna head coach John Furey. “We needed to have better at-bats and come through in critical situations.”
In the fifth inning, Niskayuna catcher Matt Toy grounded into an inning-ending double play after the Silver Warriors had plated one run that frame when LeBlanc scored on an error — but the second inning was where Niskayuna likely squandered its biggest opportunity. That stanza ended with the bases loaded and star center fielder Garrett Whitley in the on-deck circle.
“But that’s the game,” said Niskayuna center fielder Garrett Whitley. “It’s frustrating not to capitalize on our opportunities, but the fact is that’s just the game. You just have to work through it and be better.”
Whitley went 2-for-4 in the contest, scored two runs, and slugged a massive two-run home run well over the center-field fence. He also stole a base.
Guilderland staked itself to a lead early in the contest with a four-run first inning off Niskayuna freshman pitcher Alec Ritzenthaler. The bounces went the Dutchmen’s way in that inning, as only one of Guilderland’s four hits in the frame left the infield.
Ritzenthaler struck out two and took the loss for Niskayuna, allowing five runs, four hits, and four walks in two innings of work. Wednesday’s outing was Ritzenthaler’s first start at the varsity level.
“He is going to be a good, good pitcher,” said Furey. “He’s very poised out there and I was very pleased with what I saw from him in many ways.”
DJ Endres followed Ritzenthaler and allowed four runs in three innings; Zach Kerr was next and allowed an unearned run in one inning; and, Jared Houghtaling pitched a scoreless seventh.
For Guilderland, Alex Varsanyi tossed five innings to pick up the win. He allowed three runs, two of which were earned, and struck out three.
At the plate, the Dutchmen’s big hit of the day came in the third inning from first baseman Matt Schiller, a two-run double. Overall, Schiller went 1-for-2 with three RBIs and a pair of walks.
For Niskayuna, LeBlanc was 1-for-3 with a walk, RBI, and run scored; shortstop Pat O’Brien was 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored; right fielder Nick Insognia was 2-for-4; and, third baseman Mike Gabriele was 1-for-2 with a pair of walks.