BY MICHAEL KELLY
NISKAYUNA — Faced with its second consecutive must-win game, the Niskayuna baseball team kept its season alive today with a 5-1 victory against Albany.
Conor Graham and Nick Insognia each hit home runs, and Insognia pitched six innings of one-run ball to lead the Silver Warriors to the win in the first round of the Section II Class AA playoffs. Niskayuna won its regular season finale Friday to qualify for the postseason, and kept its momentum going today against Albany.
“It’s been really exciting,” said Graham. “I’ve played in postseasons before, but playing with these guys, it’s a new group and I’m really enjoying it.”
Graham’s two-run home run came in the second inning and pushed Niskayuna’s lead to 4-1.
Insognia added his blast in the third inning — he’d had an RBI single and a stolen base in the first — while the right-hander struck out seven Albany batters while only allowing two hits.
The only inning in which Insognia faced any trouble was the second. Insognia loaded the bases to start the frame and Albany scored one run, but Niskayuna got out of the jam when shortstop Pat O’Brien fielded a ground ball, tagged out a runner, and threw to first base for an inning-ending double play.
“It was a heck of a reaction,” said Niskayuna head coach John Furey. “The ball carried him right to the middle of the infield … and he made a great play, a great decision.”
No. 8 Niskayuna next plays Thursday against No. 1 Shenendehowa in the quarterfinals. Furey’s program has beaten a top-ranked Plainsmen squad in sectionals in the past — most recently, in the 2008 quarterfinals — and said the Silver Warriors will be ready for their third consecutive must-win game.
“Who knows, we’ll see,” he said. “We’ve had some luck there before.”
In other sectional games today:
GIRLS LACROSSE: Playing in the Section II Class B semifinals, the Niskayuna girls lacrosse squad had little trouble with Columbia. The Silver Warriors kept their perfect record intact with a 21-10 win against Columbia, as Bri Sacks scored a team-high six goals and Marisa DiVietro added three goals and four assists. Also for the Silver Warriors, Abbey O’Brien had four goals, Cat Sexton had three scores and two assists, and Alissa Franze collected three goals. No. 1 Niskayuna will next play Wednesday against No. 2 Queensbury for the championship.
SOFTBALL: With a 7-0 victory, the Niskayuna softball team advanced to Friday’s quarterfinals in the Section II Class AA tournament. Stacy Gordon pitched a two-hitter for Niskayuna, which will now play No. 1 Columbia.