By Connor Stalker, Blue Sox Staff Writer
The Blue Sox are moving on! The Blue Sox faithful came out in droves tonight to show their support and hopefully see this year’s squad through to the next playoff round. Their efforts were rewarded in a huge way as the Blue Sox won 3-2 on a walk-off knock by Norris McClure in the bottom of the 9th.
The Sox faced off against local opponent, the Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs. Throughout the season, the rivals were in a constant battle for 2nd place, with the Blue Sox reigning supreme finishing with a record of 28-13, 3 games ahead of Mohawk Valley who finished with a 26-17 record.
Finishing ahead in the standings earned the Blue Sox a bye in the first round, while the Diamond Dawgs had to play Glens Falls, who they defeated 8-5 on July 30th.
For today’s game, the Blue Sox called on Marcus Kruzan, an incoming freshman to St. Thomas, who worked a 1.43 ERA in the regular season. Opposite Kruzan, Colin Ruddy got the start for the Diamond Dawgs. Ruddy was Mohawk Valley’s top starter this summer going 4-3 with a 2.23 ERA.
Mohawk Valley got the scoring started first in the top of the 2nd, on a single to right field by 9th hitter Jaden Ross. Later in the inning, catcher Mitch Balint roped a ground ball up the middle scoring another and giving the Blue Sox a 2-0 lead.
The Blue Sox chipped away at the lead in the bottom of the inning as a ground ball to short by Pablo Santos scored Easton Brenner cutting the lead to 1.
Kruzan was removed in the 5th after a solid start going 4 innings while allowing 2 runs and striking out 5. Coach Delett handed the ball off to lefty Brandon Scott to try and stifle the Diamond Dawgs offense and he more than delivered. Scott pitched 5 scoreless innings of relief striking out 3, while giving up a single hit. Scott was also incredibly efficient needing just 42 pitches to finish up the rest of the game.
Will Shannon tied up the game in the bottom of the 7th on a line drive single to left, off Ruddy, electrifying the large crowd at Murnane.
The Diamond Dawgs called on stud reliever Aidan Colegrande to hold the lead and give the offense a chance to score. He walked the 1st batter he faced in the 8th, before getting the next 3 batters in order.
In the bottom of the 9th, he quickly ran into trouble. Ben Partridge led off the inning with a broken-bat single to 1st base that he beat out. The next batter, Andre Demetral, then laid down a perfect bunt, that he beat out before, the 3rd baseman made a bad throw that allowed Demetral to move to 2nd and Patridge to move to third. This brought up Norris McClure, a batter well accustomed to this situation. As the crowd held their breath in anticipation, McClure did not disappoint hitting a blooper over the shortstops head to walk it off, a huge victory for the Blue Sox.
McClure and Scott split player of the game honors as both of their clutch performances enabled the Blue Sox to win. Partridge, Easton Brenner, and McClure all finished with 2 hits each, with 1 of Brenner’s hits being a double. Will Shannon and Andre Demetral also contributed singles to the winning effort. Blue Sox pitching held the Diamond Dawgs to just 4 hits. Balint and Ross lead the charge on offense with a hit and an RBI each.
Colagrande was handed the loss, while Scott earned the win on the mound.
The Blue Sox move on to the championship game in the East against the Amsterdam Mohawks in Amsterdam at 6:45 PM on August 1st.