By PAUL CIFONELLI
When Baldwinsville was upset by seventh-seeded Fayetteville-Manlius in the Section III Class AA sectional final, Shenendehowa could have let out a sigh of relief and taken it easy in practice the next week knowing it avoided a potentially dangerous match-up. However, instead of letting its guard down, the Plainsmen focused on what they could control and breezed through Fayetteville-Manlius and into the Class AA final four.
Shenendehowa head coach Greg Christodulu said that his team was so focused on what they had to do to reach the Class AA Central Regional that they did not even know who they were going to face. Shenendehowa had no idea that Baldwinsville, a state-ranked team and the favorite to emerge from Section III, was in the championship game, let alone that they were defeated.
“We weren’t even sure who was in the championship out here, that’s how focused we needed to be on what we needed to do, to be honest with you,” Christodulu said.
The Plainsmen’s starting pitcher, Evan Jones, threw a complete game, three-hit shutout and was backed by a pesky offense. Shenendehowa’s offense was not necessarily explosive, but there were runners on seemingly every inning. Whatever they provided was enough for Jones, who dominated from start to finish. He struck out seven Hornets and walked only one. Jones also never allowed anybody to reach third base. Despite his dominant day, he did not feel like he had his best stuff.
— Paul Cifonelli (@PCifonelli) June 8, 2019
“I was working my fastball, but then I was having a little trouble with the curveball, but that’s when I ended up throwing it a little slower,” Jones said. “That’s when I was getting the whiffs. But I’ve got to give a shout out to my catcher Jack Voce. He was calling 2-0 curveballs, 3-1 curveballs and I didn’t have the trust but he had the trust in me. So I give that all to him.”
The Plainsmen did their scoring in bunches. They brought in three runs in the top of the third inning then added three more in the top of the seventh to put the game away. Wake Forest commit and Shenedehowa third baseman Jake Reinisch got the scoring started with an RBI single in the third. Thomas Krill and Jones each knocked in a run later in the inning, with Krill’s coming on a Hornet error and Jones’s on a fielder’s choice.
Fayetteville-Manlius starter Max Parker was a surprise choice to get the ball, but is coming off of a great start in the sectional semifinals. Parker threw valiantly, but only lasted three innings and ended up taking the loss. Reinisch was able to finally break Parker and get his team on the board by staying within himself and putting together a good at bat.
“I knew it was a big spot in the game, first and second, either one or two outs,” Reinisch said. “So I was just looking for a good pitch to hit. I took the first one on the outside corner then I was expecting curveball and I got one and I just put a good swing on it and tried to hit it into the outfield.”
The seventh inning saw the rest of Fayetteville-Manlius’s hopes of a comeback dashed. Brody Vincenzi drove in the first run of the inning on a fielder’s choice which was also the second out of the inning. Nick Lemire followed that up with a two-run single to seal the victory.
Now that Shenendehowa has advanced to the Class AA final four it will take on Massapequa, the champion of Section VIII, on Friday, June 14 at Binghamton University. The other game in the final four will be between Section I champion Suffern and Section V champion McQuaid.