GUILDERLAND The Blue Stone Bluehawks ended the Albany Athletics’ two-year reign as AABC Stan Musial North Atlantic Regional champions.
Andrew Stanton’s two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning gave the Bluehawks a 2-1 victory over the Athletics in the regional final Sunday, Aug. 3, at Guilderland’s Dutchmen Field.
“It’s very disappointing. We were playing very well leading up to this game,” said Athletics manager Joe Altieri. “We played the Bluehawks six times since June 28, and we beat them four out of the previous five times before (Sunday).”
The Athletics grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning on a hit by pitch with the bases loaded. Starting pitcher Ryan Harper made that lead stand up until Stanton unloaded in the sixth inning for his third hit of the afternoon. Stanton singled and doubled earlier in the game to account for half of the Bluehawks’ six hits off Harper.
Altieri said his team didn’t do itself any favors.
“We had three major base running blunders, and then in the fifth inning we couldn’t execute a sacrifice bunt,” said Altieri.
Ryan Gauck added a pair of singles for the Bluehawks, who advance to their first Stan Musial World Series appearance.
The Athletics had a chance to redeem themselves against the Bluehawks Monday, as the two teams were scheduled to meet in the second game of the Albany Twilight League semifinals. The Athletics defeated the Bluehawks 7-6 in the first game of the best-of-three series Wednesday, July 27.
“It’s not the opportunity we were hoping for,” said Altieri. “We’re not going to the (Stan Musial) World Series, but we still have a chance to play for a league title.”
The Athletics reached the Stan Musial regional finals for the fifth straight year by winning their first three games of the double elimination tournament. They edged the Long Island Gamecocks 4-3 and handled the Waterford Nationals 9-1 to get through the first day undefeated. The Athletics then shut out the Bluehawks 5-0 Saturday, Aug. 2, to clinch a berth in the finals. However, the Pelham Mets spoiled the Athletics’ bid for a perfect run to the final with a 6-1 victory.
The Bluehawks needed a victory over Pelham Sunday, Aug. 3, to advance to the finals.