QUEENSBURY — Coach Jay Marra saw Jack Sylvia’s look as he walked to the pitching mound in the sixth inning.
“He didn’t want to come out,” Marra said. “I said, ‘listen, I know you’re going to be mad, but I think I’m doing the right thing here.’”
It just meant Queensbury would have two solid pitching performances on Saturday instead of one. Sylvia pitched five innings of one-hit ball and James Ward got the final six outs in a 3-0 victory over South Glens Falls to start the Section II Baseball Tournament. The Spartans move on to face top-seeded Ballston Spa in the Class A semifinals on Wednesday at Saint Rose (7 p.m.).
This is new territory for Queensbury, the defending state champion and the winner of four of the last six Section II titles. The Spartans are 14-7 and seeded fourth, making them the underdog.
“We’re in a tough bracket,” Marra said. “Ballston Spa, we know they’re a good ballclub. We’ll go and see what we can do.”
The Spartans had to get past a Foothills Council rival to move on, and it wasn’t until the fifth inning that they broke through. South High pitcher Connor Bovair had retired 11 in a row.
“We weren’t reading his pitches,” Queensbury’s Jordan Fowler said.
Fowler came up in the fifth with one out and one on after Nate Johnson’s double. Fowler said he got an outside fastball that became a double to right field for the game’s first run.
“I read it out of his hands, just tried going the other way with it, scoring that run,” Fowler said.
Two batters later, Ward’s RBI single made it a 2-0 game. Sylvia tripled and scored on Matt Chase’s single in the sixth.
South High’s only hit off Sylvia was a fourth-inning single. But he had some control issues while working on a mound that had been lowered during the week and hit the first batter of the sixth. Marra had more arms available and was ready to use them.
“I figured, why wait for trouble to happen,” the coach said. “Let’s get a fresh arm in there.”
The loss left South High at 15-5, a vast improvement over the 2018 season.
“It was a little bit of a rocky start,” coach Nick McPartland said of this season, “but (the players) responded, they came together as a team and they battled and they competed. Today, Queensbury just played better than us.”
Both coaches expected the starting pitchers to be strong and that’s exactly what happened. The Spartans’ breakthrough in the fifth decided the game.
“Quite frankly against the better teams, we haven’t been able to give (Bovair) the run support, which is unfortunate,” McPartland said, “because he battled. He kept us right there. He gave us every opportunity to go out and put up some runs and come out victorious, and unfortunately that didn’t happen. But Jack Sylvia’s also a very, very strong pitcher as well.”