SARANAC LAKE - During the past few days leading up to Friday's game, Saranac Lake head baseball coach Bryan Munn was trying to figure out the last time the team hosted a playoff contest, or even won one for that matter.
All Munn found was that it has been a long time for both, but it ultimately turned out that both droughts came to an end for the Red Storm.
Hosting a quarterfinal round Section VII, Class B playoff game, Saranac Lake pulled out a 4-3 victory over Northeastern Clinton. The third-seeded Red Storm broke a 1-1 deadlock by combining to score four runs during the fourth and fifth innings, and then held on after the Cougars answered with two runs in the top of the sixth.
Saranac Lake second baseman Logan Wood attempts to throw out a runner after making a tough play on an infield grounder during the sixth inning of Friday’s game against Northeastern Clinton.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Saranac Lake notched its seventh win of the season with the victory, a feat the team also hasn't accomplished in a long time, according to Munn.
"All I know is that it feels good," Munn said. "We've had 16-game seasons forever and couldn't break the six-win barrier, and in this abbreviated season, we've already won seven. I don't know when Saranac Lake's last home playoff game was, but I do know that we're not going home after our first playoff game this year. We had a good turnout, good support and we came out with the win."
The fifth turned out to be the decisive inning as the Red Storm pushed three runs across the plate to grab a 4-1 edge. Logan Wood, Trent Fitzgerald and Brad Shumway each had hits in the frame and scored. Fitzgerald doubled home Wood, who led off with a single, and Shumway then batted in Fitzgerald with a single. Nick McCabe later followed with an RBI sacrifice to send Shumway home with what proved to be the winning run.
McCabe finished with 2 RBI and a single, and Tristin Fitzgerald also singled for the winners.
Trent Fitzgerald pitched a complete game to earn the win on the mound for Saranac Lake. The Cougars, who finished with a 1-10 record, outhit the Red Storm by a 7-to-5 margin. Joel Herzog, the Cougars catcher, finished as the only player in the game with more than one hit. He had a pair of singles. Mason Letourneau also added a double for NCCS, which was the sixth seed.
"It's always disappointing to lose, but we played as well as we could," said NCCS coach Jerry Davison. "That's what we were looking for. We put ourselves in position to win but came up short against a good team. Even though we lost, it was a positive way to end the season."
Saranac Lake will now face Plattsburgh in a semifinal game Monday at SUNY Plattsburgh's Chip Cummings Field. The scheduled start time is 4:30 p.m. Munn plans to start McCabe on the mound in that matchup.
"Our bats were a little shaky today, but we played really well defensively," Trent Fitzgerald said. "We did most of our scoring in one inning, and hitting is something we need to work on before our next game. We need to be getting runs in every inning. That's what we're looking for."
Saranac Lake 4, Northeastern Clinton 3
Trent Fitzgerald and Tri. Fitzgerald. Mason Letourneau, Reece Tucker (5) and Joel Herzog. WP - Trent Fitzgerald. LP - Letourneau. 2B - Tucker (N), Trent Fitzgerald (SL).