By ROB JONAS
ROTTERDAM – With the season on the line, Averill Park manager George Brooks called upon a freshman who had recently been called up from the junior varsity team to get the big hit.
Pinch hitter Alex Yash was up to the challenge. Yash lined lined a one-out RBI single to drive in the tying run in the top of the seventh inning and then scored the go-ahead run on an error to lift the sixth-seeded Warriors to a 2-1 victory over No. 3 Mohonasen in the Section 2 Class A baseball quarterfinals Saturday, May 25.
“We didn’t have a spot on varsity for him this year, so I put him on JV to get him reps,” said Brooks. “At the same time, we’ve seen him at practice. Something about his swing really stuck with me. So when I had the chance to put him in, I didn’t hesitate.”
Mohonasen took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI bunt single by Keegan Jarvis, but Averill Park responded in the seventh by getting its first two batters on base with back-to-back singles from Avery Pascucci and Jack Nichols. Ethan Simard’s sacrifice fly allowed Pascucci to move to third base before Yash batted him in with a smartly-hit single into left-center field.
Yash stole second base on the next pitch to force Mohonasen into intentionally walking Ian Zieske to load the bases. Mohonasen pitcher Drew Coehlo induced a ground ball to easily force Nichols at home for the second out of the inning, but Ben Romer sent a hard grounder to second base that shortstop Alex Gannon couldn’t cleanly handle, which allowed Yash to score the go-ahead run.
Coehlo and Averill Park starter Anthony Childrose each benefited from solid defensive plays during their pitcher’s duel. With two outs and a runner on base in the top of the second, Zieske sent a fly ball to deep center field that Jake Deguire tracked down with a diving catch to save a run.
“He’s the best athlete we have on the field,” Mohonasen manager Kevin Sheremeta said of Deguire. “He put momentum on our side, but we didn’t take advantage of it. We didn’t execute, and they did.”
Then in the bottom of the fourth inning, Mohonasen had two runners on base with two outs. Tommy Millett hit a hard grounder towards second base that Pascucci bobbled, but the sophomore shortstop had the presence of mind to throw home to get Jarvis at the plate to end the threat.
“That’s the reason he’s there,” Brooks said of Pascucci. “He has a great baseball IQ. [He had] the sense to say the play’s not over … and to keep playing through it to get the out is impressive.”
Coehlo cruised through the fifth and sixth innings before running into trouble in the seventh and taking the hard-luck loss. Childrose closed out the game with a scoreless seventh inning to earn the complete-game victory.
“Drew is an absolute gamer. He’s going to go out there and give it everything he has, and he did it again today,” said Sheremeta.
Averill Park meets No. 2 Amsterdam in the Class A semifinals Wednesday, May 29, at Bob Bellizzi Field in Albany. Amsterdam, which won the Foothills Council title, knocked off No. 7 Albany Academy 10-0 in another quarterfinal game Saturday. The other semifinal pits No. 1 Ballston Spa against No. 4 Queensbury. The first game of the Wednesday doubleheader is scheduled for a 4 p.m. start.
Photos by Rob Jonas. Copyright 2019 by Capital Region HS Sports.