Hilltoppers cruise past Braves

Fonda-Fultonville second baseman Giovanni DiCaprio waits for the throw as Fort Plain's Troy Butler starts to slide in for a stolen base during Western Athletic Conference action Wednesday at Phillips Field at the Fort Plain Sports Complex. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)

FORT PLAIN — It may not be as dramatic as a home run sailing over the fence, but a well-placed bunt is still a productive way to produce runs and victories.

The Fort Plain Hilltoppers used their small-ball game to produce four second-inning runs en route to defeating Fonda-Fultonville 10-1 in a Western Athletic Conference game Wednesday at Phillips Field at the Fort Plain Sports Complex.

“Small-ball is still very, very important to baseball,” Fort Plain coach Craig Phillips said. “It was like the Whitehall game last year [Class D Section II title game]. We don’t win that game without bunting.”

The Fonda-Fultonville batters took Fort Plain starter John Cortese deep in the count several times in the first inning but could not come up with a score.

Troy Butler got the Hilltoppers (7-0 overall, 6-0 WAC) on the board first, leading off with a single, stealing second and crossing the plate on Cortese’s RBI single.

Fonda-Fultonville's Charles Susi dives back to the base as Fort Plain first baseman Bryce Thibodeau waits for the ball on a pick off attempt from pitcher John Cortese during Wednesday's Western Athletic Conference game at Phillips Field at the Fort Plain Sports Complex. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)

The Braves answered in the top of the second with a lead-off double from Dylan Hamlen and later crossed the plate on a wild pitch to tie the game at one apiece.

A dropped third strike opened the door for Fort Plain in the bottom of the second.

Zack Reid beat the throw down on the strike out and Nate Buley followed with a single.

Taylor Gifford loaded the bases with a well-placed bunt down the third-base line for a single. Jaxson Yacowenia laid down a squeeze bunt to score Reid and beat the throw to first to keep the bases loaded. Troy Butler followed with another squeeze bunt, and an error on the throw allowed two runs to score. Yacowenia crossed the plate on a fly ball to right field to put the Hilltoppers up 5-1.

“Teams quit thinking about hitting five-run home runs all the time, like in the major leagues,” Phillips said. “It is still part of the game and always will be as far as I am concerned.”

After a shaky start in the third inning and a runner on second with one out, Phillips lifted Cortese in favor of Gifford. After allowing a single to Giovanni DiCaprio, the junior settled down to get out of the inning with a pair of strike outs.

Gifford backed that up by getting out of the fourth inning on six pitches and after allowing a single to Brady Myles, he got a 1-6-3 double play from his defense and a ground out to get out of the inning on nine pitches.

“I was just trying to throw strikes, get outs quick and get our team through the inning so we could get back on offense,” Gifford said.

Fort Plain added two runs in the fourth and three more runs in the bottom of the fifth with the big hit coming from Yacowenia with an RBI triple to help stretch its lead to the 10-1 final score.

Yacowenia finished the game with a triple, single and two RBIs, while Buley added two singles and two runs scored. Gifford, Fureno and Bryce Thibodeau all had RBI singles and Butler added a single and a run scored for the Hilltoppers.

For the Braves, Hamlen had a double and a run scored, while Charlie Susi had an RBI single and DiCaprio added two singles to go with singles from Kyle Lawyer and Brady Myles.

Fonda-Fultonville (4-4 overall, 3-2 WAC) is scheduled to host Duanesburg Friday at noon, while Fort Plain, ranked fourth in the Class C state rankings, is slated to host Hoosick Falls at 1 p.m. Friday.

“It was a nice win,” Phillips said. “We have a couple of big games left, but the big thing is we got this game in.”

Fort Plain 10, Fonda-Fultonville 1

Fonda-Fultonville 010 000 0 — 1 6 3

Fort Plain 140 230 x — 10 9 0

Zumbolo, Hamlen (5) and Myles; Cortese, Gifford (3), Thibodeau (7) and Fureno.

Non-league

Canajoharie 9, Schalmont 6

TROY – The Canajoharie Cougars pushed six runs across the plate to rally past Schalmont for the non-league victory Wednesday night at Joe Bruno Stadium on the campus of Hudson Valley Community College.

Isaiah Logan led Canajoharie with two triples, four RBIs and a run scored, while Derek Hyney and Josh Herget had two singles apiece.

Aiden Jasenski, Jackson Defayette and Nick Mesley had two singles apiece for Schalmont.

Canajoharie 9, Schalmont 6

Canajoharie 000 126 0 — 9 7 4

Schalmont 022 200 0 — 6 11 3

Montayne, Shariff (5) and J. Herget; Hobb, Hughes (4), Jasenski (6), Ruzzo (6) and Defayette.

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