Niskayuna’s Tommy Favata will remember his 16th birthday.
Favata pitched three shutout innings and drove in the go-ahead run to lead Niskayuna to a 16-6 victory over Colonie in Monday’s 15-year-old division Babe Ruth Mid-Atlantic Regional final at Cook Park.
`I just knew what I had to do to keep the (South Colonie) off the scoreboard,` said Favata, whose team led 7-6 when he entered the game. `That first inning was tough knowing the score was so close. My fastball was working and my curveball was good, so I just settled in and threw the best I could.`
Niskayuna completed an undefeated run through the regional and advanced to the Babe Ruth World Series Aug. 18-25 in Arkansas, while Colonie finished with a 5-1 record as the host team.
`To advance this far was our goal since the first day of practice at the end of May,` said Niskayuna coach Chris Bianchi.
`This is a tough loss to swallow,` said South Colonie coach Quentin Jensen. `The biggest thing that hurt us today was our walks. We had a good chance to win. We are a good hitting team and we took the lead early, but we didn’t play good defense and we couldn’t throw strikes. I wouldn’t do a thing different, though.`
Colonie built a 5-1 lead with a big second inning. Drew Patentreger lofted a sacrifice fly to drive one run in, and Nick Donato added a grand slam to put Colonie on top.
`I was very patient at the plate, and it paid off,` Donato said. `I hit a curve ball that was hanging up and away. I just wanted it to go over the rightfielder’s head, but I think the wind got caught of it and before I knew it, I was watching it clear the fence.`
Niskayuna trimmed the Colonie lead to 5-3 with two runs in the top of the third inning, but Colonie responded with a run in the bottom half of the frame to carry a 6-3 advantage into the fourth inning.
That’s when Niskayuna took over. The Eastern New York runners-up plated four runs in the top of the fourth — capped by Favata’s RBI single — and added five runs on four walks and a hit in the fifth inning. Niskayuna finished the game with nine hits and 15 walks.
`We had a very intelligent approach to hitting the entire way — to hit specific pitches in specific spots. We did a good job of it. We got ahead in the count when the pitchers weren’t throwing strikes.`
Garrett Whitley capped the scoring for Niskayuna with a two-run double in the sixth inning.
`I was seeing the ball well, and as a result I hit the ball well,` Whitley said. `As we got further along in the tournament, the pitching got better and better. We kept on working at being patient at the plate. When we got a good pitch to hit, we hit it.`
Niskayuna advanced to the regional finals with a 9-0 victory over Media, Pa., in Sunday’s semifinal round, while Colonie outlasted North Syracuse 12-11 in the other semifinal. Both teams won their respective pools during the round-robin portion of the tournament, which started last Thursday.