FONDA - The newly required, less-lively BBCOR bats mean runs will be at a premium, defense will be a priority and taking advantage of defensive mistakes will be a necessity.
In the season-opening game for both Fonda-Fultonville and Schalmont, the Sabres were the better team defensively and took advantage of some of the Braves' mistakes for a 5-1 win on a windy Monday afternoon.
"Anybody on any given day can beat anybody," Schalmont coach Bob Anderson said. "There are going to be low-scoring games and the team that makes the fewest mistakes [will win]."
Fonda-Fultonville’s Alex Kocjan slides safely into home as Schalmont’s Chris Ambrosi shows the umpire his glove and the Braves’ Wally Kowalski looks on during the third inning of a Colonial Council game Monday. (The Leader-Herald/Erich Neuhaus)
Fonda only gave up three hits between the efforts of Kody and Zak Shaw, but the six walks, a combined seven passed balls and wild pitches to go with the three errors on defense amounted to four unearned runs for Schalmont.
Schalmont only made one mistake, a bad hop off the bat of Charles Parslow that shortstop Dan Bergani was unable to handle in the third. That extended the inning enough for Alex Kocjan to eventually plate the Braves' only run off a passed ball.
The Braves outhit Schalmont 5-3 on the day.
"I don't think offensively they did any more than we did," Fonda-Fultonville coach Rick Palumbo said. "I thought we gave them a lot more chances to score."
Schalmont put up two runs in the second off a wind-aided error in right field, a hit-by-pitch and a pair of wild pitches.
With Schalmont runners on second and third with one out, first baseman Kevin Twardzik saved a run on a diving snare to his right, touching up at first base while Bergani came home from third. But on the next at-bat, Kody Shaw threw a wild-pitch, ball four to allow Jim Hamilton to score for the 2-0 lead.
In the top of the third, Schalmont added two more runs when Nick Pascarelli doubled down the third-base line to score Greg Musk, who was on second because of a throwing error by Kocjan. Two batters later, Bergani poked a single into right to bring home Pascarelli, the only earned run of the game and a 4-1 Sabres lead.
That was all Schalmont needed as left-hander Chris Ambrosi had an answer for the Braves' lineup throughout the day. The junior went all seven, striking out eight and scattering five hits. A radar gun at home plate clocked the junior's fastball teetering around 83-84 mph before using a sharp changeup to keep Fonda off-balance.
"Chris pitched very well," Anderson said. "What we're trying to do is throw first-pitch strikes, put the ball in play and trust your defense. We got to limit the pitch count on these kids and that's the best way to do that. And Chris did that today."
Schalmont's pitching and defense didn't give Palumbo much chance to manage the game on the paths, so with runners on first and second with two outs in the sixth, he implemented a double steal to try and give his team some life on offense. Instead Wally Kowalski was gunned down trying to swipe third to end the inning.
With an overthrow from the catcher or a wild pitch, Fonda would have been in business, but Schalmont executed again on defense.
"You can look at that as not the greatest move in the world, but sometimes you just try to get something going," Palumbo said. "I didn't have a lot of opportunity. [Albert] Fiorenza is a good hitter; maybe I could've waited, but down 4-1, I just thought we had to make something happen."
Kody Shaw threw hard for his first time out. He sat down eight Sabres through his five innings of work. A radar gun clocked the senior's fastball ranging from 82-84 mph, but often times he overthrew, leaving his pitches up which led to four walks and a hit batter.
The steady breeze and the first time out didn't help Shaw find his release point, but there's no question he'll give the Braves a chance anytime he takes the mound.
"Kody pitched pretty good, but he wasn't completely there tonight," Palumbo said. "He had some control issues keeping the ball down, which helped him get behind in some counts. But then he got his composure back and had some good moments out there too. Kody is going to be a good pitcher in this league this year."
With some mistake-free ball, the Braves will be good this year too.
Fonda travels to Voorheesville on Wednesday.
Schalmont 5, Fonda-Fultonville 1
Schalmont 022 000 1 - 5 3 1
Fonda-Fultonville 001 000 0 - 1 5 3
Ambrosi and Demers; K. Shaw, Z. Shaw (6) and Kowalski.