Gene Twardzik/For The Recorder Amsterdam's Eric Robertshaw hits during the first inning of Friday's Section II Class A quarterfinal game against Scotia-Glenville in Scotia.
Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Amsterdam's Julian Gallup pitches during Friday's Section II Class A quarterfinal against Scotia-Glenville in Scotia.
By ADAM SHINDER
SCOTIA -- It didn't matter that the Amsterdam High School baseball team had been completely shut down by Scotia-Glenville Tartans ace Dan Zeglen through six innings Friday in the Section II Class A quarterfinals. The Rams had seen just 63 pitches, managed only two hits and sent the minimum 18 batters to the plate.
But, they were down by just one run and they couldn't have been more confident in the four seniors due to hit in the top of the seventh inning -- Julian Gallup, Eric Robertshaw, Andrew Rouse and Kolbie Glionna.
One by one, they produced magic, and the vibe in the Amsterdam dugout went from enthusiastic to absolutely electric as Gallup walked, Robertshaw doubled and Rouse yanked a two-run single to right to give Amsterdam its first lead of the game. The mojo kept on flowing as the Rams chased Zeglen after plating three more runs, and Gallup shut the door in the bottom of the seventh to finish off a dramatic comeback for a 5-1 win that moved the Rams into today's Class A semifinal against Averill Park at 1 p.m. at the Plumeri Sports Complex in Albany.
"That team is just unbelievable," Gallup said. "I knew we had the fight, and having some seniors come up like that, the leadership was gonna come through. It was just a matter of time."
For six innings, that didn't necessarily seem like the case. The Rams hit several balls hard, but they were either tracked down in the spacious S-G outfield or died on the slow infield grass as Amsterdam didn't get any of its three baserunners past first -- two were caught stealing, one was erased when Zeglen's diving catch on a popped up bunt turned into a double play -- and the Tartans edged out a 1-0 lead on Brett Sarnowski's fourth inning sacrifice fly.
Amsterdam coach Brian Spagnola's confidence never wavered.
"We were losing 1-0, and I had a smile on my face watching these guys yell and scream," Spagnola said. "My speech (after the game) was gonna be how proud I was of them, even if we lost, because you don't see emotion like that all the time. They deserved the win."
And when Gallup stepped in against Zeglen to start the seventh, it appeared the Rams' confidence may have been in the right place, as the Tartans ace started to struggle with his control, walking Gallup on four straight pitches.
Then came Robertshaw, who'd gone through a rough afternoon having been caught stealing in the first and bunted into the aforementioned double play in the fourth. Spagnola gave the senior the sign to bunt, and twice he was unable to lay it down. The bunt sign came off, and it was the best thing that could've happened to Robertshaw, who smacked Zeglen's 1-2 pitch into left-center for a double that just got past the glove of a sliding Sarnowski to put runners at second and third.
"I couldn't get the bunts down, but that made me mad and I got up there with a chip on my shoulder and made it happen," Robertshaw said.
That brought up Rouse, who wasn't feeling the pressure of the moment at all.
"I'm smiling," Rouse said. "I struck out earlier in the game, but I pounded my chest and just smiled. I tried to stay loose. (Assistant coach) Mike Deamer gave my a big lift, too."
He yanked Zeglen's 1-0 pitch to right for a single that brought home Gallup and Robertshaw to make it a 2-1 game and send Amsterdam's dugout into complete bedlam.
Glionna followed with a single, then the Rams blew the game open when Brady McGillin laid down what he said was the first successful sacrifice bunt of his baseball career and Zeglen's throw to first base skipped away, allowing two more runs to score.
"Honestly, it's the first bunt I've ever gotten down in my life," McGillin said. "Honestly, if it was up to me, I'd probably want to just hit, but I thought about the team and getting that win is big."
Ben Rhodes' RBI single made it 5-1 and chased Zeglen in favor of Mike Barbee, leaving Tartans coach John Striffler to lament what might've been.
"That's why you play the full seven innings," Striffler said.
Amped up for the seventh inning, Gallup allowed a leadoff single, hit a batter and threw two wild pitches -- including one well over catcher Anthony Noce's head when Gallup was one strike away from ending the game -- before fanning S-G's Mike Mushaw with the potential tying run on deck to complete a six-hitter with eight strikeouts and two walks.
It was Gallup's third complete game win of the season, and it brought the Rams from the brink of elimination to being seven innings away from a berth in the sectional championship game at Joe Bruno Stadium in Troy.
"I've just waited for this moment so long," Gallup said. "Me, 'Pudge' (Rouse), all these seniors. It's been a very emotional year. We haven't played as well as we could've, maybe should've, but I knew that when it comes down to it we have some of the best players in the section."
"I can't wait," Rouse added. "We're gonna come out ready."
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