FORT COVINGTON - The combination of dominate pitching, timely hitting and steady defense has long been a winning formula for the sport of baseball.
In the 2021 Section 10 Class A Championship Game against Malone on Friday at the Salmon River Central varsity diamond, that was still the case for Massena Central.
Senior David Dubray once again anchored the win for the Red Raiders, who successfully defended the championship they claimed in 2019 after being denied the chance to do so last spring due to the encroaching coronavirus pandemic. The hard-throwing righty fanned 15 batters in six innings while scattering three hits and surviving three walks.
“I had the butterflies going at the start of the game but I just tried to focus on what I needed to do,” said Dubray, who pitched Massena to the Class A title as a sophomore in 2019. “I couldn’t even imagine not playing this spring. Winning a championship is an aweswome, amazing feeling.”
Senior Zack Monacelli, who flawlessly worked behind the plate through the first six innings, took over on the hill for the top of the seventh where he retired the three batters he faced. After allowing a groundball single up the middle to senior Wesley Taylor, Monacelli promptly picked-off what turned out to be the final Malone baserunner then went on to strikeout the next two batters to seal the win.
Freshman Jordan Perry wound up taking the hard-luck loss after giving up just one run on two hits and two walks while striking out five before senior Harrison Hungerford came on to start the fifth inning and fell victim to a quick rash of errors that keyed a decisive six-run surge.
“We’re a very young team. Only two of our starters were seniors but we gave Massena a game today,” said coach Tim Lamay after the Huskies closed out the season at 7-6. “We had the one inning where we booted the ball around a couple of times. Otherwise we were right there.”
Dubray and Perry put up matching zeroes through the first three-and-a-half innings before the Red Raiders broke through for the only run they would need in the bottom of the fourth. Following a brief dugout conference before the start of the at-bat, Monacelli and classmate Emery Deshaies drew back-to-back walks with one out. Two batters later, junior Brenin Snyder turned on a Perry offering and launched a linedrive to leftfield that hit the ground then the top of the fence for a ground-rule double to drive in Monacelli.
“It was a fastball,” said Snyder, who made the varsity roster last spring but was denied the chance to play due to COVID-19. “We knew that with Dave pitching, all we needed to do was score. He kept us going until then. We were all pretty happy when we finally scored. It feels great.”
While the longest hit ball of the game gave the Red Raiders the lead, it was one of the shortest that led to the demise of the Huskies in the bottom of the fifth. Having taken over on the hill to start the inning, Hungerford gave up a groundball to senior Nathan Eastwood that led to the first of five errors. Classmate Mason Phillips then put a bunt down the firstbase line that provoked a throwing error and keyed a sequence of miscues that allowed both Eastwood and Phillips to come around and score.
Senior Thomas McGregor and junior Connor Terry then drew back-to-back walks and advanced on a single by Monacelli that loaded the bases. Deshaies and Dubray followed by hitting balls that led to errors and allowed McGregor to score. Snyder and Ethan Firnstein eventually drove in the final Massena runs on a fielder’s choice and groundball out.
“Before we went to bat in the fourth inning, we talked about being more disciplined at the plate and not chasing pitches,” said coach Greg Paquin. “The Perry kid was going a good job of keeping us off-balance and mixing his pitches.”
“Definitely, the hit by Brenin sparked some life into the whole team. The longer a game goes scoreless, the tighter you grip the bat. There was a big sigh of relief after we got that run,” he added.
Hungerford led-off the game by flaring a double into right-centerfield for a double while sophomore Logan Spaulding and Perry stroked consecutive two-out singles in the third inning to account for the only other two hits allowed by Dubray.
“Give Malone credit. They were very aggressive at the plate. I can’t think of any other game this year where David gave up a double to start the game or gave up back-to-back hits,” he added.
Massena’s lone other hit was a lead-off single by Deshaies in the second inning.
The Red Raiders (13-2) will now advance to the first overall baseball tournament held in Section 10 since before the start of the NYSPHSAA playoffs in 1983. The overall semifinals are slated for Tuesday and the championship game on Saturday.
“I’m glad that the section decided to have the overall tournament so that our kids can have a chance to play a few extra games,” said Paquin. “I am happy with the way we won today and I’m excited about playing next week.”