Another slow start proved to be costly for the Albany Dutchmen.
Saratoga scored three runs in the first inning and five more in the decisive third inning to defeat Albany 10-5 in last Saturday's New York Collegiate Baseball League game at Bleecker Stadium.
The win kept the Phillies (12-18) alive for a berth in the NYCBL playoffs, while the Dutchmen (7-20) fell further off the pace.
I tell the guys that we're still in this, said Saratoga coach Greg Zackrison. "All of our remaining games are against teams that are battling for third and fourth place [in the East Division]."
Center fielder Jesse Bruinsma started Saratoga's three-run first inning with a one-out RBI double. Bruinsma scored on first baseman Mike Augustine's single, and left fielder Pat Epps scored on an error.
Blake Gibbs got all those runs back and more in the bottom of the first inning. The left fielder came up with the bases loaded and launched a grand slam over the left-center field fence to put Albany ahead 4-3.
"Early in the game, I was just looking for the right pitch," said Gibbs. "Luckily, I got ahead in the count, and [Saratoga pitcher Justin Thompson] threw it where I wanted it."
"He's been very steady in the middle of the lineup," said Albany assistant coach Hank Coogan, who filled in as manager for Ryan Horning, who was at a wedding. "I think tonight is just an example about the kind of player he is."
That was one of the last mistakes Thompson made against Albany. The University of Virginia hurler limited the Dutchmen to one more run and four hits over the next four innings to pick up the win.
"Tonight was his first start. He was getting his feet wet," said Zackrison. "He had some early problems, but he battled and did a great job."