SARANAC LAKE — For the second time in three seasons, the Plattsburgh Thunderbirds have captured the Empire Professional Baseball League title.
The Thunderbirds defeated New Hampshire, 8-6, in Game 2 of the best-of-three championship series Thursday at Wilson-Raymond Field in Saranac Lake.
Plattsburgh topped the Wild, 7-6, in Game 1 Wednesday to put New Hampshire on the brink of elimination.
Simon Palenchar finished with a team-high three hits, which were all singles, and Hiroki Itakura blasted a two-run homer and notched a team-high three RBIs to pace the Thunderbirds.
In a relief appearance, Dimitri Nunez recorded the pitching victory and fanned three batters, tallying 2.2 innings of one-run ball on three hits and two walks.
Cas Silber worked two scoreless innings to register the save and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth frame that ended with a lineout off the bat of New Hampshire’s Ryan Rivera to Itakura in right field.
Like many games throughout the season, Plattsburgh jumped out to a hot start, scoring six runs in the first four frames.
The Thunderbirds loaded the bases with nobody out in both the first and second frames and scored twice in both innings.
In the first, Stephen Octave walked with the bases loaded to score Simon Palenchar, and Jordan Holloman scored as Taylor Olmstead grounded into a double play.
The Wild got one run back in the bottom half of the opening inning thanks to a sacrifice fly from Kenneth Hutchison that plated Steven Figueroa.
Plattsburgh’s two runs in the second resulted from an E5 that scored Robbie Kellerman and Itakura grounding into a fielder’s choice and driving in Mohammed Hussein.
Itakura’s two-run shot extended the Thunderbirds’ advantage to 6-1 in the fourth.
New Hampshire scored four times in the fifth frame, capitalizing on some sloppy Plattsburgh defense.
The Wild’s Nick Landell crossed the plate after a wild pitch, and Steven Figueroa and Hutchison both scored after infield errors.
An RBI single from Rivera cut New Hampshire’s deficit to 6-4, but Nunez induced a 6-4-3 double play in the next at-bat to get out of further trouble.
Taylor Olmstead’s RBI single in the seventh added an insurance run for the Thunderbirds, but the Wild got the run right back in the bottom of the inning when Hutchison scored on another RBI single off the bat of Rivera.
Plattsburgh extended its lead back to two runs with a Danny Muller sacrifice fly to center that drove in Palenchar in the ninth.
Chris Tessitore earned a no-decision, getting the start for the Thunderbirds and threw 4.2 innings and allowed one earned run on three hits and three walks.
Austin Steinfort took the loss for the Wild and was unable to get out of the second inning.
Rivera and Patrick Sheehan tied for a team-high two hits in the New Hampshire lineup.
Plattsburgh 8, New Hampshire 6
Plattsburgh 220 200 101 — 8 7 5
New Hampshire 100 040 100 — 6 7 3
Tessitore, Quinn (5), Nunez (5), Silber (8) and Kellerman. Steinfort, Cattai (2), Nicolace (5), Hutchison (7) and Sheehan. WP- Nunez. LP- Steinfort. SV- Silber. 3B- Palenchar (P), Olmstead (P). HR- Itakura (P).