By ADAM SHINDER
FONDA -- The long wait to finally get on the mound didn't disrupt Fonda-Fultonville senior Zak Shaw a bit.
After several aborted attempts to get their 2014 baseball season underway, the Braves finally took the field on a picture-perfect Saturday afternoon in a non-league game against Johnstown, and Shaw got right back to the form that saw him post a 1.71 earned run average over 46 innings in 2013, holding the Sir Bills to an unearned run over six solid innings as the Braves posted a 4-1 victory.
"It felt great," Shaw said. "Everyone was pretty anxious just to play, and I think everyone played well. Everyone was pretty happy just to be out here."
Shaw limited Johnstown to just three hits, struck out 11, walked none and hit a batter over six innings and 93 efficient pitches. Shaw threw more than 20 pitches in only two innings -- the first and sixth -- and had only three three-ball counts against him the entire game.
"Sometimes, you take for granted that he's a very good pitcher," Fonda-Fultonville coach Rick Palumbo said. "First time out, he threw probably 90 pitches, which for him is not a lot. For some of my other guys, it would be, but with him I don't worry so much. He pitched a pretty economical, solid game."
Baylee Hall tossed a scoreless seventh inning to earn the save in relief of Shaw as the Braves won despite being out-hit, 5-4. Anthony Sinicropi went 1 for 3 with two runs batted in for F-F, while Lucas Calkins doubled, walked twice and scored two runs, Kevin Myers singled and scored twice and Pat Hart ripped a base hit.
The Braves took advantage of drawing seven walks against Johnstown pitchers Grant Gyldervand, Connor Askew and Steve Forker to bolster their offense. Fonda-Fultonville scored two runs without a hit in the first inning, then added two insurance runs in the fifth before Johnstown scratched across an unearned run in the sixth.
"We were pretty patient at the plate," Palumbo said. "We didn't get a lot of hits, but we didn't swing at a lot of bad ones, either."
Fonda-Fultonville didn't manage its first hit until Pat Hart's screaming line drive single in the fourth, but it was Calkins' leadoff double in the fifth that started the game's biggest rally. Myers followed by reaching on an error and stealing a base to put runners on second and third before Hall's run-scoring groundout and a Sinicropi RBI single to left made it a 4-0 game.
The hitting, Shaw said, will come as the season goes along and the Braves actually get a chance to see live pitching on a regular basis.
"It's our first day out," he said. "We'll definitely improve on that. We hadn't seen live pitching at all yet, so it was weird, but we'll be ready next time."
On the mound, Shaw was in control throughout his six-inning stint despite working with a runner on base in all but one inning. However, just one of the three hits the Sir Bills had against him left the infield, with the other two coming on soft grounders onto a very slow infield surface.
"For the first game, I'm pretty happy with myself and everyone else," Shaw said. "Everyone's working hard, and we've been working hard all year so far. Everyone's just happy to be outside."
Shaw worked around a pair of singles in the seventh inning to record the save, striking out two and finishing off the game when he induced a comebacker from Johnstown's Ryan Auty.
And after waiting so long just to play -- especially after Friday's trip to Valatie for a game with Ichabod Crane that was postponed after the teams had completed pregame warmups -- Palumbo was happy just to put one in the books.
"Overall, for a first game, I'll take it," he said. "Johnstown's a quality team. We didn't see their best pitching and they did see some of our best, but they've got games next week and we don't."
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