TROY - For the second time in as many years, the Johnstown baseball team saw its bid for a Section II title come up short against Schalmont.
The top-seeded Sabres posted a 6-1 win over the sixth-seeded Sir Bills in the Section II Class BB championship game Wednesday at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.
Schalmont (22-1 overall) will face Class B champion Fonda-Fultonville on Saturday at the Plumeri Sports Complex in Albany at 1 p.m. FFCS defeated Voorheesville, 3-2, in the Class B title game Wednesday.
Johnstown’s Dan Nellis (3) looks for the call after tagging Schalmont’s Joe Wignot at second base during Wednesday’s Section II Class BB championship game at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium in Troy. (The Leader-Herald/Paul Wager)
When Johnstown and Schalmont met in the 2013 Class B title game, the Sabres put up 10 runs in the first inning on their way to a 14-3 win.
"After last year, we knew that it would be a tough game," Schalmont coach Bob Anderson said.
In the rematch, the Sir Bills put their first two batters on base when Ryan Auty drew a walk and Dan Nellis was hit by a pitch. Matt Szurek reached on a fielder's choice that saw Auty forced out at third. Nellis and Szurek advanced to second and third on a groundout by Jon Heroth.
Schalmont starter Matt Capovani pitched his way out of the jam, striking out Connor Rodecker to end the early threat.
"Matt [Capovani] struggled a bit early, but once he got into a rhythm, he located the ball well tonight," Anderson said. "For him to pitch his way out of the first inning was big."
Johnstown starter Grant Gyldenvand put the Sabres down in order in the bottom of the first.
Both teams went down in order in the second as Johnstown overcame an error when catch Adam Caputo threw out Joe Wignot at second on a steal attempt after he reached on an error.
The Sir Bills stranded two more runners in the top of the third. Nellis drew a two-out walk and Szurek beat out an infield single before Heroth struck out to end the inning.
"If we could have pushed one across early, it would have been huge for us," Mraz said. "We just weren't able to do it."
Schalmont scored the game's first run in the bottom of the third.
Jake Defayette reached on an error to start the inning and Anthony Yezzo followed with a walk to put two runners on with no outs.
Nick Bird attempted to bunt for the Sabres but it was snared out of the air by Johnstown first baseman Richie Lee for the first out of the inning.
Greg Musk reached second on a throwing error by Nellis, who fielded Musk's grounder and threw wide of first base allowing Defayette to score the game's first run.
Gyldenvand got Brion Dufek to groundout for the second out of the inning before striking out John Pascarella to end the inning.
The Sabres added a run in the first when Yezzo scored after reaching base a one-out throwing error by Szurek at shortstop. It was one of four errors on the night by the Sir Bills.
Musk plated Yezzo with a single to center field to make it 2-0. It was the Sabres' first hit of the game.
"We made some mistakes that led to some of their runs," Mraz said. "They took advantage of the opportunities that we gave them. That's what good teams do."
Schalmont broke the game open in the sixth inning, scoring four times on four hits and two walks.
John Pascarella and Joe Wignot opened the inning with singles for the Sabres, bringing Mraz to the mound and an end of Gyldenvand's night.
"Grant got a little tired, started getting his pitches up and started to become very hittable," Mraz said. "He battled and did a great job. I couldn't ask any more from him than he gave us."
Auty came on to pitch for Johnstown and struck out Kevin Paskevich for the first out of the inning.
Chris Hamilton drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases for Kaelan Meers, who with the Sir Bills' infield in, lofted a single over Nellis at second to score Pascarella.
Yezzo then put down a bunt that stayed just fair and allowed Hamilton to score and keep the bases loaded with just one out.
"We got a little luck there," Anderson said. "The ball stayed fair and we took advantage."
Dom Toma gave Schalmont a 5-0 lead, scoring Hamilton with a sacrifice fly to center field. Meers finished the surge, scoring on a wild pitch to give Schalmont a 6-0 lead heading into the final inning.
Lee led off the seventh with a single to center and Caputo reached on a dropped third strike.
After Capovani struck out Joey Henderson for the first out, he got a flyout from Steve Forker.
Auty drew a four-pitch walk for Johnstown, and Anderson replaced Capovani with Greg Musk in an effort to get the final out.
Musk needed six pitches to strike out Nellis and seal the win for the Sabres.
Derek Gray, who came on to run for Lee, scored Johnstown's lone run in the seventh on a wild pitch.
"We played well enough to win," Anderson said. "We hope to play better as we go along. If we want to continue on, we need to play better."
Capovani allowed just two hits in 6 2/3 innings. He also struck out 12, walked four and hit one batter on his way to the win.
Gyldenvand allowed three hits, struck out two and walked just one in five innings for the Sir Bills.
Auty allowed two hits, struck out one and walked two in two innings of relief.
Szurek and Lee had the only hits for Johnstown.
"It was a good game. I'm proud of the way the kids battled," Mraz said. "I'm proud of this group. It's a tough way for the seniors to end it, but this is a great group of ballplayers."
Johnstown, which was seeking its first sectional title since 1968, finished its season with a 14-8 overall record.
Schalmont 6, Johnstown 1
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Gyldenvand, Auty (6) and Caputo; Capovani. Musk (7) and Yezzo.