JOHNSTOWN - The fans turned out and the teams responded with a thrilling high school baseball game.
With a two-game win streak on the line the Broadalbin-Perth Patriots rolled into Johnstown looking to complete the series sweep of the Sir Bills.
After falling behind 6-1 the Sir Bills fought back to tie the game and hold off Broadalbin-Perth for a 10-8 Foothills Council victory Friday night at Johnstown High School.
Johnstown’s Adam Caputo dives back to first as Broadalbin-Perth first baseman Tyler Graham (15) waits for a throw after second baseman Tyler Schmidt grabbed a line drive off the bat of Richie Lee during the second inning of Friday’s Foothills Council game at Johnstown High School. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)
"I love the loudness and the passion, especially from all the fans here tonight. It was great," Johnstown senior Ryan Auty said. "We are a good team and we know it but we need to believe in ourselves. We have been in kind of a funk lately."
The game got off to a rough start as hit batters resulted in first inning runs for both teams.
The Patriots broke out to a 6-1 lead in the third inning, loading the bases with no outs before Joe Zarecki connected on a bases-clearing double to the right-center field fence. Logan DeNeuville plated Zarecki with a single and stole second to be in position to score when Jeremiah Horton reached on a fielding error.
Auty came on in relief of Johnstown starter Richie Lee and picked up a strike out to end the Patriots' rally.
"The fight was there. The kids believed they could do it," Johnstown coach Aaron Mraz said. "When we brought Ryan in I told them we just have to chip away one inning at a time and not try to get it all in one inning. In the huddle they said 'Coach, six runs is not going to win this game.' It turned into a scrappy game for both of us."
The Sir Bills went to work with Dan Nellis drawing a one-out walk followed by a single from Matt Szurek. Jon Heroth lifted a sacrifice fly to score Nellis. Connor Rodecker and Adam Caputo followed with back-to-back doubles, followed by back-to-back singles from Lee and Steven Forker to chase Patriots starter Noah Martin with Broadalbin-Perth's lead cut to 6-5.
Johnstown tied the game in the bottom of the sixth when Rodecker singled and was pinch-run for by Andrew Wilson. He advanced to second on a wild pitch before reaching third on after a failed pick off attempt.
Lee legged out an infield single, while Wilson scored to tie the game at six. Forker and Joey Henderson drew walks to load the bases, but the Patriots came up with a force play at the plate for the second out.
The Sir Bills took their first lead of the game, 7-6, when Nellis walked with the bases loaded to score Forker and Szurek also walked to score Henderson to build the lead to 8-6.
Broadalbin-Perth fought back to tie the game in the top of the sixth.
for the second time in the game, Luigi Magliocca was hit by a pitch and came around to score on Brett Getman's RBI double.
Zarecki delivered his second RBI double of the game to score Getman and tie the game at 8 apiece.
The lead was short-lived as Johnstown came back in the bottom of the sixth.
Rodecker worked his way on with a walk, but was thrown out when Horton, who was on the mound in relief, knocked down a hard shot by Caputo and Schmidt recovered the ball to fire it to Getman to force Rodecker at second, while Caputo reached base.
Lee followed with a single and the senior duel pulled off a double steal to put runners on second and third with two outs.
Henderson hit a hard grounder toward shortstop that Lee had to leap over to avoid. The ball skipped past Getman into left field allowing Caputo and Lee to score.
The Patriots appealed the play saying the ball hit Lee but the umpires said no and the Sir Bills took a 10-8 lead.
"I didn't see it very well from my vantage point but the kids thought it took a funny bounce off Richie's shoe," Broadalbin-Perth coach Dan Simonds said. "I went over and asked and the umpire said no. It is what it is it doesn't change the fact that we played a good baseball game."
Zach Morreale led off the top of the seventh for the Patriots and put the ball in play only to be called out as he dove head first into the bag on a close play at first.
Auty got Horton to fly out before recording his fifth strike out of the night to end the game.
"It wasn't just one guy, it was all through the lineup," Mraz said of his team's win. "When we needed somebody, we got the hit or put it in play. It was everybody doing their job and we needed that."
The Sir Bills will return to the diamond at 9 a.m today against Mayfield, while Broadalbin-Perth prepares for a key series against Gloversville.
The Patriots will host the Huskies on Monday before closing out the regular season under the lights at Husky Field on Wednesday.
A win against Gloversville could qualify the Patriots for postseason play.
"Johnstown is a great team and has already qualified for sectionals," Simonds said. "To be able to play with them for two games shows that we can play with anyone in the BBs. All we have to do is get there."
Johnstown 10, Broadalbin-Perth 8
Broadalbin-Perth105 002 0 - 8 7 2
Johnstown104 032 x - 10 10 5
Martin, Hemstreet (3), Horton (5) and DeNeuville; Lee, Auty (3) and Caputo.