Jack Gandolfini was on the dugout fence urging his teammates to stay on it and remain loud as the Pine Bush baseball team trailed the Fayetteville-Manlius Hornets by two runs and running out of outs.
He even came up with an opportunity to do some damage with two runners on and one out in the sixth inning, and he tagged a line drive that Hornets left fielder James Mason ran down in the left-center field gap. However, Pine Bush’s Jack Taylor didn’t see the ball get caught and was doubled off second base for the third out.
“I thought it was going to drop and it just hung up in the wind and the kid made a great heads-up play and made the throw,” Gandolfini said. “There was nothing I could do.”
Pine Bush coach Matt Boffalo saw the ball get caught but couldn’t get Taylor’s attention.
“It was so loud in here,” Boffalo said. “I was saying, ‘stay, stay, stay.’ I had my hands up and he just kept going. That was tough.”
Pine Bush did get a two-out run, but fell, 2-1 in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association semifinals at Bearcat Stadium in Binghamton, ending the Bushmen’s best season since 2006, when they also reached the state semifinals.
“I’m going to remember how much everybody came together, and how many kids and fans we had up here and how many people came together to support this little town that nobody knew about,” Gandolfini said.
The little town that nobody knew about showed it belonged as starting pitcher Alex Bucolo picked up right where he left off in the regional final, retiring the first nine batters he faced, five via the strikeout.
He gave up his first hit – a two-run single by Michael Dutch – in the fourth. He then walked Thomas Woodridge and then with two out, he gave up an RBI single to Chris Hoalcraft. Bucolo also gave up an RBI single in the fifth inning to Ethan Powell.
Bucolo threw 6+ innings, gave up two runs, scattered five hits and struck out five. He gave up a single to Eitan Spinoza in the seventh before Joe Gleason came in and struck out his first two batters. He then got Seth Albert to fly out to finish the seventh.
“They’ve both been great all year,” Boffalo said. “I’m not disappointed in the way they pitched at all because if we can’t score two runs and get more than four hits, we can’t win the game.”
The Bushmen’s offense had trouble solving Fayetteville-Manlius’ Maxwell Danaher. Mike Jacques greeted him with a single to start the first inning and Danaher hit Mike DeSena in the inning. After that, Danaher set down the next 13 batters before Taylor led off the sixth inning with a base hit.
“Their pitcher did an outstanding job keeping us off balance,” Boffalo said. “We’ve hit the ball all year long, and throughout the playoffs and the regionals. Today, they held us to four hits.”
And had the Bushmen down to their last out.
However, Pine Bush had one last gasp.
“We’ve done it before with two outs,” Gandolfini said. “Today just wasn’t our day. We hit the ball hard. We had a lot of fans and support out here, but they made the plays, they made no mistakes, and they just beat us.”
Connor Stacklum singled with two outs and pinch runner Sean Garcia scored on Josh Martin’s double. However, Danaher struck out Nick Croce to end the game and the Bushmen’s season.
“I told them I was proud of them and to ‘keep your heads up,’” Boffalo said. “Now, we set a high bar for the program and it’s something the rest of the teams from now on can shoot for.”