By PAUL GOTHAM
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — Shane Marshall didn’t hide from the truth. Webster-Schroeder’s junior starter looked no further than the scoreboard to explain his team’s loss.
“They had 17 hits,” Marshall said. “That’s unbelievable. They’re a great team.”
Four of those base knocks came in the seventh inning as the Shenendehowa Plainsmen rallied for a 7-6 victory over Schroeder to claim the New York State Class AA championship.
Marshall stranded seven runners from the second through the sixth innings, but Shenendehowa’s Rich Drum tripled to lead the seventh bringing a close to the right-hander’s day on the mound.
“With those kids I’m not trying to strike them out or blow it by them,” Marshall explained. “They’ve all seen faster than I’ve thrown. I’m more a pitch-to-contact kind of kid. I try to throw at the knees and once in a while I make a mistake up high, and they’ll put it in the gap.”
Ben Anderson, who earlier in the day was selected in the Major League Baseball draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, greeted Nick Lawlor with an RBI single through the left side of the infield. Two outs later, leadoff hitter Nick Jacques tied the game with a single to center field. Joe Palko followed with the walk-off game winner.
“That team is really good,” Marshall added. “They have a lot of all-around really good players, a couple draft picks over there.”
Shenendehowa looked in command early. The Plainsmen sent eight to the plate and took a 3-1 lead in the first inning. Joe Fraser brought home two with a one-out double to right center. Drum followed with an RBI single, and the Plainsmen led 3-1.
But Schroeder responded with five runs in its next at bat.
“Once we were down, we knew we weren’t out of the ball game,” Marshall stated. “It was still the first inning. We knew we just had to chip away on at a time. We just had a big inning with five runs. It changed the whole tide of the game.”
Lawlor, who started the semi-final game earlier in the day, led the inning with the first of three walks issued by Shenendehowa starter, Nik Malachowski. Justin Graham brought home two with a bloop single.
“We knew it wasn’t over,” Graham said.
Steve Smith chased the Plainsmen starter with a two-run double. Marshall greeted John Cady with an RBI single. The Warriors made it 6-3 game with a double steal.
Shenendehowa cut the margin to two in the sixth. Kevin Huerter doubled to start the stanza. Jacques put runners on the corners with a single up the middle.
“If you make a mistake against that lineup, they’ll be running the bases all day on you,” Marshall said.
Marshall induced a ground ball, but Huerter scored on the double play.
Schroeder threatened in the seventh. Marshall reached on a one-out base hit and moved to third on O’Neill’s single to center. Phil Ferranti followed with a line drive, but Pizzo made a leaping stab at third to take away a sure hit. The inning ended without Schroeder capitalizing.
“They’re a really good team,” O’Neill said. “They outhit us by a lot. They deserved it.”
The trip to the state final was the first for Schroeder.
“It makes me hungry for next year,” Marshall stated. “Last year we were supposed to be so good and fell short. This year we were supposed to be an average team. I’m expecting to have another good season next year. We’ll see what happens.”
The championship was the first in Shenendehowa’s history.
Earlier in the day, Ian Anderson tossed a complete-game shutout as the Plainsmen defeated West Islip, 3-0. On Thursday, the senior starter was selected by the Atlanta Braves with the third overall pick in the MLB draft. The Toronto Blue Jays chose his twin brother, Ben, in the 26th round with the 792nd overall selection.