BY MICHAEL KELLY
NISKAYUNA — A fantastic start and a great finish put Smashburger over the top in the June 18 Niskayuna Baseball League AAA Division championship game.
“That was a really great feeling,” Smashburger’s Jacob Pirrone-Salisbury said after his team’s 7-5 victory against Carpet One.
When Pirrone-Salisbury had found out he’d start the championship game on the mound, his emotions had been a little more mixed.
“I was excited, but I was also nervous because it’s the championship game,” he said. “We really wanted to win.”
In his two innings on the mound, Pirrone-Salisbury didn’t look nervous at all. He didn’t allow any runs while recording five of his six outs with strikeouts.
Meanwhile, at the plate, Smashburger got off to a fast start with a three-run first inning on four hits. Adam Halpin, Will McCleron and Zach Mravlja all scored for Smashburger, while Halpin and Duncan Munro each had RBIs.
“It was a good way to jump ahead and get some confidence,” Smashburger head coach Jay Goldberg said of his team’s start.
Halpin provided the big hit offensively in the first inning with a two-RBI triple on a ball hit deep into the outfield.
“It felt like all the other ones,” said Halpin, who had three hits in the game. “It came off cleanly.”
Smashburger’s 3-0 lead hung around until the third inning. That’s when Carpet One scored all five of its runs.
Jacob Theurer, Nicholas Dunne, Eric Thurn, Charlie Skane and Matt Sacco each scored in the frame. Sacco and Matthew LaVigne each had two-RBI doubles in the inning, while Skane picked up an RBI when he walked with the bases loaded.
“They could play, too,” Goldberg said of Carpet One’s players. “They came back and scored on us, but our guys didn’t give up. They bounced back in a hurry.”
After falling behind 5-3, Smashburger answered with three runs of its own in its half of the third inning. Halpin and Liam Post-Good each had RBI doubles in the inning, while Munro also had an RBI. Scoring runs in the inning for Smashburger were McCleron, Halpin and Pirrone-Salisbury.
Two innings later, Smashburger added an insurance run when Munro had an RBI single to score Halpin.
“To get those runs helped us out at the end,” Halpin said.
Halpin closed out the game with a scoreless inning in which he struck out three batters. In between Pirrone-Salisbury and Halpin, Smashburger also had Munro and Shane Goldberg pitch.
For Carpet One, pitching duties were split between LaVigne, Sacco and Skane.
Smashburger had nine of the 11 players in its batting order reach base at least once in the championship game. All season, the team’s coach said, that offensive balance was key.
“We hit the ball really well all year long,” Jay Goldberg said.