Colonie shines under the lights

The Colonie baseball team didn't let Shaker spoil its night under the Cook Park lights.

Brian O'Keefe's 2-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning propelled the Garnet Raiders to a 7-5 victory over their crosstown rivals in last Friday's Suburban Council game.

It was a great way to end the week, said Colonie coach Kevin Halburian.

Shaker (5-2 league, 5-3 overall) built a 5-0 lead through the first three innings before Colonie (4-3, 7-4) rallied with four runs in the bottom of the fourth and O'Keefe's fifth-inning blast.

"We didn't do much to continue our offense, and then I may have left [starting pitcher Derek] Gardella in one hitter too long because their No. 4 guy [O'Keefe] hit the home run that put them ahead," said Shaker coach Pete Mralvja.

The Blue Bison got the jump on Colonie in the first inning when Jeff Hoffman hit a 3-run homer. They then added a pair of runs in the top of the third to build their five-run cushion.

The momentum shifted in Colonie's direction in the bottom of the fourth inning. Gardella walked four batters and gave up a pair of RBI singles as the Garnet Raiders pulled close.

"We took a lot of pitches and made their pitcher work," said Halburian. "He got tired around the third inning, and we took advantage of it [in the fourth]."

"I don't know if it was so much they were wearing our pitchers down," said Mralvja. "Let's just say politically correctly that we had trouble with the strike zone."

Once Colonie took the lead on O'Keefe's homer, pitcher Chris Kalica made certain the Garnet Raiders stayed in front. Kalica finished off Shaker with two shutout innings to pick up the complete-game victory.

It was the first time that Colonie hosted its crosstown rivalry game with Shaker under the lights at Cook Park's primary Babe Ruth field.

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