---- — SAUGERTIES — The Clinton County Junior Mariners needed to win a pair of games to keep their season going Monday.
Unfortunately, they were only able to get one.
Clinton County captured a 2-1 win over the Saratoga Stampede to move into the Zone Tournament’s championship round. But, the Junior Mariners fell to the Middletown Cobras 8-0, putting an end to a masterful season.
Needing a win to stay alive, Clinton County fell behind Saratoga 1-0 early, and it stayed that way until the sixth.
Dan Hartman got on with a walk, which was followed by Blake Altizer reaching on an error. Quenton Barber delivered a single to load the bases.
Then, Andy Kneussle came through with an RBI single to tie the game at one. Nate Stanton, a pinch hitter, delivered the game-winning single, which drove in Altizer.
“The first game was great,” Junior Mariners coach Gary Duquette said. “We knew it was going to be a close game; it’s always close when we play Saratoga.
“We weren’t able to get much going until the sixth. We finally got some baserunners and put some pressure on their defense. Kneussle and Stanton really came through with some clutch hits.”
Despite giving up the lead early — on an unearned run — Brandon Buksa was superb on the mound. He finished with six strikeouts and allowed just two hits to pickup the victory.
“Buksa was phenomenal on the mound,” Duquette said. “He had complete control of all of his pitches. He just did a really good job.”
The second game, though, proved to be a rough one for Clinton County.
By making it to the championship game, the Junior Mariners would have needed to win Monday and play the same team again today for the title in the double-elimination tournament.
But, Middletown closed the doors on Clinton County’s title hopes.
The Junior Mariners rapped out seven hits, but couldn’t get anyone home. The Cobras, meanwhile, scored eight runs in the first four innings to take a commanding lead.
“Game two was tough,” Duquette said. “We didn’t play bad, but the other team came out hitting. They are a really good hitting team and we struggled pitching. Brantley Marion, though, did well against them when he came in.
“We had base runners in every inning but the fourth, but couldn’t string more than one or two hits together.”
Clinton County finished the season with a District IV Junior title and an impressive 22-6 record.
“It was a good season,” Duquette said. “But it didn’t end the way we wanted it. You could see in the kids’ faces they didn’t want the season to end.
“We had a great year and a lot of fun. I like to think that all of the kids had a great time.”
Junior Mariners 2,Stampede 1
Saratoga 010 000 0 — 1 2 1
Clinton 000 002 x — 2 6 1
Petralia and Coffey. Buksa and Hartman. WP- Buksa. LP- Petralia.
Cobras 8,Junior Mariners 0
Middletown 122 300 0 — 8 14 1
Clinton 000 000 0 — 0 7 1
Knesel and Mayo. Barber, Bingel (3), Marion (4) and Hartman. WP- Knesel. LP- Barber.