By ADAM SHINDER
ALBANY -- The Fonda-Fultonville Braves simply ran into the wrong team -- and the wrong pitcher -- on the wrong day to keep their postseason magic flowing.
Less than 72 hours after Wednesday's Section II Class B final win over Voorheesville gave the Braves the program's first sectional baseball championship since 1982, Fonda-Fultonville headed to the Plumeri Sports Complex for Saturday's Class B-BB playoff for the opportunity to represent Section II in the state tournament, but a couple early runs gave Schalmont lefthander all the cushion he needed to fire a two-hitter that sent the Sabres past the Braves, 8-1, and put an end to F-F's historic season.
"Our kids don't quit, they play hard, but like I told them, 95 percent of the time, good pitching's gonna beat good hitting," Braves coach Rick Palumbo said. "And (Musk) is as good a pitcher as anyone's gonna see."
Musk wasn't perfect, laboring throughout the game and needing 128 pitches thanks to issuing five walks and hitting a batter, but the lefthander struck out seven and limited the Braves to singles by Baylee Hall and Kevin Myers, with the only run coming on a bad-hop grounder that resulted in an error in the fourth inning.
"We came into the game with our heads up, trying to take it to them," Braves catcher Anthony Sinicropi said. "We know they didn't think too highly of us. We tried to bust out in the field, but Musk is a great pitcher and he shut us down today."
"We were just missing it," Sinicropi added. "All the pop-ups we had, all the foul balls we had. He was overpowering us today."
The Sabres gave Musk a lead before he ever took the mound, as his double off Hall on the first pitch of the game kickstarted a two-run first inning thanks to a Chris Hamilton RBI single and a wild pitch that allowed Dom Toma to score.
Schalmont added two more runs in the second inning when a pair of two-out walks to Musk and Toma set the stage for John Pascarella, who drilled a two-run triple into the right field corner to make it 4-0.
Fonda-Fultonville (13-10) got its lone run in the fourth when Pat Hart walked, stole second and came around to score when Zack Valachovic's grounder took a bad hop and kicked off the glove of Schalmont (23-1) shortstop Joe Wignot. That was all the offense the Braves could muster, however, and Schalmont blew the game open with three runs in the fifth against Hart -- who relieved Hall after 3 1/3 innings.
"We had some life, but they shut the door and got a couple more runs," Palumbo said. "That makes it very tough."
Pascarella led the way at the plate for Schalmont, going 2-for-3 with three runs batted in, while Musk went 3-for-4, drove in two runs and scored twice as the Sabres collected 11 hits against the Fonda-Fultonville trio of Hall, Hart and Zak Shaw -- who threw the final two innings after his complete game victory Wednesday against Voorheesville.
"It definitely takes a lot out of you when that team, one through nine, can hit," Shaw said.
The win moves the Sabres into the state Class B tournament, where they'll have a bye into the regional final to take on the winner of Friday's regional semifinal between Section VII champion Saranac and either Ogdensburg or Potsdam from Section X. The Sabres will travel to the winner of that game's section for the June 7 game.
"They're very deserving of going on," Palumbo said. "In my opinion, they are the best team to represent our section going forward."
As for the Braves, while Saturday was a bitter end, the team was unable to fret too much, as they'll hang their hat on the sectional plaque they brought back to their school to end a 32-year baseball title drought.
"That's what's keeping us up right now," Sinicropi said. "We're joking at the end of the game, we're happy, we're talking about that. We're getting some sweatshirts made up. That's always great. It makes us happy."
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