JOHNSTOWN - After dropping a 6-2 decision to Hudson Falls on Monday, the Johnstown baseball team found itself looking for revenge in Wednesday's rematch.
After the top of the second inning Wednesday, the Sir Bills found themselves looking at a 3-0 deficit.
"[Hudson Falls] is a scrappy team," Johnstown coach Aaron Mraz said. "I give them a lot of credit. They played us tough twice this week."
Johnstown’s Ryan Auty, right, gets back to first base as Hudson Falls’ Nate French looks to apply the tag during Wednesday’s Foothills Council game at Johnstown High School. (The Leader-Herald/Paul Wager)
However, the Sir Bills chipped away at the Tigers' lead, scoring one run in the second, third and fourth innings before scoring two runs in the fifth and sixth on their way to a 7-4 victory.
"This team doesn't ever give in no matter what the score is," Mraz said. "Our bench is a big part of that. They always stay in the game and root for their teammates. They help keep everybody up."
Johnstown got a strong effort from Joe Nellis on the mound.
Nellis, a senior lefthander, struck out 15, walked just one and gave up four hits on the day.
"Joe [Nellis] was effective on the mound today," Mraz said.
Two of the Tigers' hits came in the second inning.
James Scally delivered the big blow for Hudson Falls, smacking a two-run double to left centerfield to score Ethan Kelsey and Tom Kiernan. Kelsey had reached on a leadoff error, while Kiernan followed with a single.
"We gave up some errors again today," Mraz said. "That's where we're struggling. You can't give up free runs like that."
After falling behind 3-0, Johnstown began to dig itself out of the hole, scoring once in the bottom of the second.
Connor Rodecker led off the inning with a double before scoring on a two-out RBI single by Richie Lee to make it 3-1.
The Sir Bills made it 3-2 in the bottom of the third when Ryan Auty scored on a single by Matt Szurek after Auty drew a walk and stole second.
Johnstown pulled even in the four when Lee used a sacrifice fly to score Adam Caputo who reached on a single and advanced to third with two stolen bases.
While the Sir Bills were clawing their way back from their early deficit, Hudson Falls was shut down by Nellis.
After giving up two hits in the second, Nellis allowed only two runners to reach bases over the next four innings. One of those runners reached on a dropped third strike in the fourth.
Johnstown took the lead for the first time in the fifth, scoring twice after loading the bases.
With one out, Auty drew a walk, Szurek had an infield single and Nellis drew a walk to load the bases.
Hudson Falls pitcher Ethan Kelsey struck out Rodecker for the second out before hitting Jon Heroth with a pitch, allowing Auty to score the go-ahead run.
Caputo then reached on an error that allowed Szurek to score, making it 5-3 after five innings.
Hudson Falls got one run back in its half of the sixth when Kelsey scored on a passed ball after reaching on a one-out single. Scally, who finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs, added a single in the inning for the Tigers.
Johnstown scored two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth when Mike Everest scored on a wild pitch after leading off the inning with a triple to deep centerfield.
Kelsey then walked Dan Nellis and Auty in succession, forcing Hudson Falls coach Scott MacEachron to bring Caleb Stevens to the mound.
Kelsey allowed six hits, struck out four, walked five and hit one batter in five innings of work for the Tigers
Szurek greeted Stevens with a no-out sacrifice fly that scored Dan Nellis to make it 7-5.
Stevens put the next two batters down in order to get out of the inning.
"We can't get ourselves down like that late in the game," MacEachron said. "Joe [Nellis] is a tough pitcher, and he just sat us down."
Nellis sealed the win in style, fanning the final three batters to end the game.
"For some reason, there always seems to be a matchup that's tough for us," Mraz said. "We always play Hudson Falls like that for some reason."
Auty finished 0-for-1 with three walks and two runs scored for Johnstown, while Szurek was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored.
Lee also had two RBIs for the Sir Bills.
Hudson Falls (3-5 overall, 1-5 Foothills) will travel to Gloversville on Monday.
"Coach Mraz always has a solid team," MacEachron said. "Johnstown's got a real good thing going here. They always have a solid team. I'm happy we were able to come down here an give them a fight."
Johnstown (5-2 overall, 4-2 Foothills) will host Fonda-Fultonville on Saturday at 7 p.m. before hosting Queensbury on Monday.
"We've got some tough games coming up," Mraz said. "It's always a battle with Fonda, and Queensbury will let us know where we stand in the league."
Johnstown 7, Hudson Falls 4
Hudson Falls030 001 0 - 4 4 2
Johnstown011 122 x - 7 6 5
Kelsey, Stevens (6) and Scally; Nellis and Caputo.