Thursday, April 16, 2009

Blue Bison rally in Suburban Council battle of unbeatens

Shaker catcher Matt Schwenzfeier watches a pitch sail by during Thursday's Suburban Council game at Columbia High School. Schwenzfeier was the only Shaker starter not to score a run (he was robbed of a base hit by Columbia's Bobby Brown) as Shaker rallied from an early four-run deficit to post a 13-7 victory over the consensus preseason No. 1 pick. (All photos by J.S. Carras - The Record).
Columbia second baseman Stephen Casavant makes the pivot to first base trying to turn a double play in the second inning as Shaker's Derek Gardella (33) slides in too late at second base. Shaker's Pat Seebald was safe at first. Columbia shortstop Justin Rebhun (7) looks on.

Shaker second baseman Ryan Leonardo makes a throw early in Thursday's game against Columbia. He was replaced by Conor Mahan in the sixth inning and Shaker's duo of second sackers combined to score three runs and reached base in all four plate appearances from the No. 7 hole.

Columbia's Stephen Casavant (8) watches Shaker's Pat Seebald slide into second base during Thursday's game. Seebald notched a game-high three hits for the Blue Bison, who remain undefeated at 3-0 in league action and 6-0 overall.

Columbia's Matt Kasper and Ian Gaule slammed first inning home runs over the left field fence to give the Blue Devils a quick 4-0 lead. The Blue Bison, however, bided their time to score four runs in both the fourth and fifth innings to stake a come-from-behind victory.

"We just struggled defensively," said Columbia head coach Chris Dedrick. "We booted a couple balls, made a few errors and we couldn’t recover from it. It was a learning experience for the guys. If you make an error, errors are going to happen. Physical errors happen in games and that’s just the way it is. It’s how you react after them. If you get tight after an error, errors breed errors. If you just relax, breathe and your teammates pick you up out there and you just want that next ball – we weren’t like that today."

Columbia (2-1, 3-1) made three errors in the fifth inning, as Shaker (3-0, 6-0) plated four runs to break a tie game. Shaker's only extra base hit of the day game in the seventh inning as Tyler Young cleared the bases with a three-run double, putting the Blue Bison ahead for good at 13-7.

Shaker starter Mike Nowak surrendered four runs in the first but was lights on from then on. He induced an inning-ending double play in the second and retired the next nine hitters in order beofre leaving after having thrown 85 pitches through five innings. Derek Gardella closed out the game with two solid innings of relief work.

"We expected we’d be right up here, I thought," Nowak said. "Our offense is doing well, our pitching is good and our defense always comes to play."

"When you beat the preseason pick of the year in the first week of the league - they wanted to make a statement and I think they did it," said Shaker head coach Peter Mravlja.

Shaker shortstop Nick Marsolais smacked a two-run single past Columbia's Justin Rebhun to tie the game at four in the fourth inning - a big run-producing at-bat for the Blue Bisons' speedy tablesetter.

"We put up 10 against Ballston Spa and we knew this team was going to be good," Marsolais said. "I don’t think we were expecting to put up 13 runs, but we just hit the ball well today.
"We knew they were one of the best teams in the beginning of the season and we just wanted to show that we could beat them and we did," he continued.

Albany defeated La Salle on Wednesday in a crucial Big 10 Conference game - the first time La Salle had dropped a league game for the first time since the 2007 season.

La Salle's Kyle Charron tags out Albany's Dominique Daniels in Wednesday's game at Bleecker Stadium in Albany. The Falcons won, 7-2. (All photos by J.S. Carras - The Record).

La Salle catcher Lukas Bridenbeck sits in a cloud of dust with Albany's Jevonte Osterhout, who was called out in the fifth inning of of Wednesday's game at Bleecker Stadium.

It could be an interesting three-way race for first in the 2009 Big 10 season with La Salle, Albany High and Christian Brothers Academy all trotting out formidable lineups. The Cadets have won the last five Big 10 titles.
Troy High and Bishop Maginn also have young and untested teams that could also make a push towards a top spot in the regular season.

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