GLENS FALLS — Terel Tillman spent his Wednesday afternoon mowing down batters.
Throwing from the mound at East Field, Tillman’s pitches could not be touched as he struck out 12 Witches, throwing 95 pitches. One by one, Greenwich tried, but in seven innings, Tillman gave up only one hit to shut out the Witches.
With such control of his off-speed throws, Tillman led Spa Catholic to a 2-0 win over Greenwich in the Wasaren League baseball championship game.
It’s the Saints second consecutive league title.
“My knuckleball and curveball were fantastic,” Tillman said. “They were getting batters to bite and it did its job.”
Spa Catholic scored in the second inning, giving Tillman some much-needed run support.
Facing two outs and a runner in scoring position, shortstop Dylan Custer sent a shot into the gap in left field for an RBI single. The run proved to be pivotal as no other runs were scored until the final inning. These two teams met in April and Tillman pitched a shutout as Spa Catholic won 3-0. Despite both teams being rather familiar with each other, it was clear that Wednesday’s game was going to be decided on the mound.
Greenwich’s Christian O’Brien kept his team around, allowing only three hits, but Spa Catholic found a way to score when it needed to.
Like in the top of the seventh inning, when senior first basemen Kaden Learch came to bat.
With a runner on third and two outs, Learch had an opportunity to finally give Tillman the insurance run he’d been searching for.
Early in the count, Saints coach Phonsey Lambert sensed the tension at the plate and called a timeout to speak with Learch.
“I came over and told him that he has to relax a little bit,” Lambert said. “I did not want him getting too excited because win, lose or draw, we have to go out and play defense.”
On the following pitch, Learch sent a bouncing ball to second, Greenwich struggled to control it but still made the throw to first.
Determined to provide Tillman with some run support, Learch dove head-first for the bag and beat the throw. He was safe and the runner scored.
“I am so proud of the way he got down the line,” Lambert said. “My seniors stepped up there in Kaden Learch. He busted it down the line and to beat that throw out that just really satisfied me.”
“He willed himself across that base.”
Tillman, with a two-run cushion, made quick work of Greenwich’s final three batters, the game ended and Learch and Tillman were the first two to congratulate each other.
“Terel has been doing it since he’s been in eighth grade,” Learch said. “We have been riding the train for awhile. He has put together such a great career and he lead us to victory today.”