Photo: Phoebe Sheehan, Albany Times Union
Everything was in place for a joyous victory for the Tamarac baseball team Friday afternoon. The Bengals had bashed their way to a five-run outburst in the fourth inning to take the lead against Wasaren League leader Mechanicville. All that separated a Tamarac squad that suffered back-to-back league losses Wednesday and Thursday from a win was three outs.
Those three outs eventually came, but not before misery, misfortune and rain came first.
Mechanicville sent 15 batters to the plate in the top of the seventh and scored 10 runs in a wide array of fashions and then withstood a rally by the Bengals before securing a wild 15-10 victory.
“This just shows the fight that we have,” said Mechanicville junior Jacob Popeil, who struck out 14 before giving way to teammate Chris Ciccarelli trailing 7-3 in the sixth. “From the moment we stepped into the tryouts, we knew we had something special. This game just proves to everyone in the league that we do have something special.”
“We never gave up and kept grinding out at-bats,” said Mechanicville junior standout Jake LaFountain, who came in for the seventh to record the final three outs. “We kept hitting the ball and put up the runs we needed.”
There was a total of 14 runs scored in the seventh inning. The Red Raiders (5-0 overall, 5-0 league) took advantage of Tamarac starter Dalton Maxon’s departure after six innings because of a high pitch count. Mechanicville only had four hits in the top of the seventh, but also walked five times and also had two batters hit by pitches. Three runs scored on wild pitches with the bases loaded.
“With pitch counts, that can happen with these games,” Mechanicville coach Scott Kraszewski said. “That is a good-hitting team over there. They hit three home runs. To be able to win giving up three home runs is impressive.”
Popeil, who tossed a no-hitter earlier this season in an 8-0 decision over Waterford, struck out eight straight batters entering the fourth inning before Maxon halted the string with a solo home run to left to make it 3-3. Later in the inning with two outs, Michael Gendron stroked an RBI single to center to provide Tamarac (0-3, 0-3) a 4-3 advantage.
The next batter, junior second baseman Jacob Danaher, followed Gendron by smoking a three-run home run to center as the Bengals extended their lead to 7-3.
“When I gave up that three-run home run, I thought we were going to lose,” Popeil said. “The team came together and picked me up.”
Popeil delivered an RBI double with two outs in the fifth and Ciccarelli followed with a run-scoring single to left against Maxon.
Gendron came on in the seventh to replace Maxon, but he quickly loaded the bases when he hit LaFountain, Zack White doubled and Tamarac coach Kevin Onorato decided to walk Popeil intentionally. Ciccarelli and Nick Miller each walked on four pitches to tie the game at 7.
LaFoutain added an RBI single and Popeil contributed a run-scoring double against Michael Jacques to help cap the 10-run uprising.
“That is what we love about these kids: They all pull together and root for each other,” Kraszewski said.
Tristan Nemjo opened the bottom of the seventh with a solo home run against Ciccarelli, who followed by allowing two singles, a double and a walk before LaFountain went from designated hitter to closer.
“I told coach I was good to throw. I had to go in,” LaFountain said.
“The hardest three outs in a baseball game to get are the last three outs,” Kraszewski said. “Outs No. 19, 20 and 21 in high school are so difficult to get.”
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