BY MICHAEL KELLY
CLIFTON PARK — Missed opportunities undid Niskayuna’s chance to upset Shenendehowa today in the Section II Class AA baseball playoffs at Plainsmen Park.
The No. 1 Plainsmen advanced past No. 8 Niskayuna with a 5-0 victory, with Bryan Warzek recording the victory for Shenendehowa with five scoreless innings and Ian Anderson registering the two-inning save. Sean Conners took the loss for Niskayuna, allowing three runs during 1 ⅔ innings before giving way to Zach Kerr, who pitched 4 ⅓ innings and allowed a pair of runs.
The victory was Shenendehowa’s third this season against Niskayuna. The Plainsmen advanced to Saturday’s semifinals at Joe Bruno Stadium, while the Silver Warriors’ season came to a close with the loss.
“We knew this was going to be the toughest game of the season,” said Kerr. “They’ve had our number all year, and we just had to fight. We did our best, but we just didn’t quite make it.”
Shenendehowa plated three runs in the first inning, with RBIs coming from Matt Alverson, Connor Douglas, and Joe Fraser. The early support was all Warzek needed.
“I came back out onto the mound for the second inning with three runs under my belt and that gave me a lot of confidence,” said Warzek, who struck out 10 and allowed three hits.
Shenendehowa did not expand upon its lead during the next several innings, though, allowing Niskayuna to stay within striking distance. In both the fifth and sixth innings, the Silver Warriors had opportunities, but could not cash them in for runs.
In the fifth inning, Niskayuna had a pair of runners reach base, but had the inning end with star Garrett Whitley in the on-deck circle. Next inning, Whitley led off with a single and Pat O’Brien walked, but the duo was stranded on base.
“We just didn’t capitalize,” Niskayuna head coach John Furey said.
Warzek worked out of the jam in the fifth inning, while Shenendehowa head coach Greg Christodulu put Ian Anderson into the contest after O’Brien walked in the sixth. Anderson faced the minimum six batters in his two innings, striking out three of them.
“Those are two good, good, good pitchers,” Furey said.
After Niskayuna missed its chance in the sixth inning, Shenendehowa’s Brad Pearson rapped a two-RBI double in the bottom half of the inning.
“Brad gave us some nice space there in the sixth,” Christodulu said.
Niskayuna went down in order in its final at-bat, leaving Shenendehowa to celebrate its first postseason victory of 2015. In 2013 and 2014, the Plainsmen won Section II championships. This year, Warzek said, the Plainsmen are out to find the state championship they just missed out on last year when they were the runner-up.
“We want to end this season with a ‘W,’” Warzek said.
O’Brien and Whitley each finished 1-for-2 with a walk for Niskayuna, while Zack LeBlanc added a hit. For the Plainsmen, Alverson, Douglas, and Pearson had multi-hit games.