Skidmore comes back for title

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Canton, N.Y.— A depleted Skidmore pitching staff reached down and tossed a combined four-hitter to lead the Thoroughbreds to a 3-1 win in the Liberty League championship game Sunday in Canton.

Skidmore (30-15)  will get its NCAA tournament assignment on Monday, with play starting Wednesday.It was the fourth-straight elimination game win for the Thoroughbreds, marking the first time in league history a team has won the title after losing the first game. The win capped a 6-0 season sweep of the Saints (28-14).

Max Martins, pitching on two days rest, allowed one run on three hits in seven innings.  Jordan Keysor closed the door with two shutout innings, after winning game two on Friday.

Skidmore lost its first game in the tournament, but then battled back, beating Rochester and Rensselaer, each by 8-3 scores, in elimination games and then beating the regular season champion Saints 7-5 in the first of two games for the title. The Thoroughbreds completed the run with Sunday's 3-1 win, denying the regular season champion the league tournament title for the seventh consecutive year. Skidmore's 2005 team was the last team to win both the regular season and the tournament. The Thoroughbreds also earned the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Leejay Pollacchi, who hit .368, was six for six in steals and made a key diving catch to help Skidmore to the win in game six of the tournament, was named tourney MVP. He was joined by teammates Martins and Keysor, Zach Rudman and Geoff Green. Carter Franz, Andrew Schreyack and Jeff Kott represented SLU while Kyle LaVigne and Andrew Kalish represented RPI and Jon Ludwig was selected from Rochester.

Martins, who came back after throwing 5.1 innings in Thursday's loss to RPI and appearing in relief in Saturday's 7-5 win over the Saints, gave up a leadoff double to Bryan Palermo and then retired 11 in a row. Palermo scored the Saints' only run as he went to third on a fly ball by Carter Franz to center and scored on Khifer O'Connor's ground out. The Saints didn't get another base runner until the fifth when Paul Piatelli singled up the middle. Piatelli went to second on a balk, but Martins got a pair of pop-ups and a line out to come out of the inning unscathed.

Skidmore tied the game against Saint starter Riley in the fourth as Zach Rudman walked and went to third when Matty Tatkow reached on an error. Erik Watkins delivered a sacrifice fly to center to score the tying run. The Thoroughbreds went on top in the top of the fifth as Green led off with a single, but was forced at second on Pollacchi's grounder. Pollacchi then stole second and scored on Brian Lowry's single to center, just beating the tag of Saint catcher Matt D'Auteuil at the plate on a throw from Franz.

The Thoroughbreds made it a 3-1 game in the sixth as Watkins was hit by a pitch, sacrificed to second and after a walk to Nick Barra, Jesse Frehling grounded out to put runners on second and third. Schreyack replaced Riley on the mound for the Saints and Green beat out an infield hit to first with Watkins scoring what proved to be the game's final run.

The Saints threatened in the seventh when Kott hit a leadoff single, but Martins worked out of that jam and finished his outing with three hits allowed and one run in seven innings. Andrew Bannon came on to pitch the eighth and hit Ethan Braddock and Palermo to start the inning, but Keysor, who pitched the win over Rochester, came on and got Skidmore out of the inning with two fly outs and a grounder.

Keysor then ended it, sandwiching a ninth inning double by Brian Magovney with a pair of strikeouts and then getting a ground out for the final out.