LAKE GEORGE - After enduring a dreadful initial two innings, the Lake George baseball team rebounded from a 2-5 deficit with steely defense and solid hitting to eke out a 6-5 turnaround victory May 26 over Berne-Knox. With the win, they advanced to the semifinals of the Class C Section II tournament.
Both Lake George Coach Erik Hoover and his players said they were frustrated by the rash of early errors the Warriors committed. The team gave up five unearned runs in the first two innings, all resulting from only two hits by Berne-Knox.
After the second stanza, a light rain shower seemed to give the Warriors the break they needed to re-focus. The team tightened up their play, and from then on, they allowed zero runs.
Hoover credited his seniors, particularly pitcher J.D. Jenkins (5-1) and first baseman Greg Stoya, who took the lead away from Berne-Knox with a three-RBI double in the fifth inning.
"This team refuses to give in," Hoover said. "It's easy for the team to rally behind those guys, and that's what they did."
"I guess the heat was beating down on us," Jenkins said about the early play. "But we stopped, took a deep breath and got back on our feet."
Not only did the players curb their errors, but Jenkins found his stride, with a curveball that had good movement beginning mid-game.
"When my curveball started working it gave me a lot of confidence and the game went a lot better," Jenkins said.
The Warrior players stepped up and produced in the game when their season campaign depended on it.
Greg Stoya was a critical element in the Warrior's turnaround. He batted two for three, and both hits were doubles, scoring four runners in all.
After the game, he was raking the sand around first base. He stopped and looked at the other players sharing smiles and upbeat talk about the game.
Stoya recalled his thoughts as he earlier stepped up to the plate for the game-winning three-RBI double.
"Whenever I have bases loaded in front of me, it gives me extra juice," he said, adding that the home turf and the spectators' enthusiasm helped too. "Hearing the crowd cheer motivates me, but I try to focus on the game," he continued.
Jenkins credited his fellow players and the rain shower for the impressive rally. The players did back up Jenkins' work on the mound, particularly when Berne-Knox rallied in the sixth, with runners on second and third with one out. Connor McCoy fielded a hit and threw out the runner at third, and then a groundout ended the inning. In Berne-Knox's final at-bat, Warrior third baseman Alex Liucci took a flying dive to catch a ground ball, then threw to first for a critical out.
Hoover praised Jenkins' composure under pressure, particularly how he rode out the rough start. Jenkins threw 110 pitches, allowed five hits, didn't let an earned run score, and struck out 10 in a full-game performance.
"It can be lonely on the mound when the guys are not playing well," Hoover said. "Someone without the resolve and determination Jenkins has, would have folded."