SARANAC LAKE - After stumbling out of the blocks by losing three straight games to start the season, Saranac Lake's baseball team might just be finding its groove.
On Wednesday, Saranac Lake won for the second time in a row with an impressive 10-0 shutout victory over visiting Ticonderoga. The Red Storm collected 10 hits, including a three-run homer from Brad Shumway, and got a complete-game shutout effort on the mound from Grant Strack to improve to 2-3 in the Champlain Valley Athletic Conference.
Red Storm head coach Bryan Munn said his team is playing much better now that his players have been able to get consistent practice and game time outdoors.
Saranac Lake senior Grant Strack swings at a pitch during Wednesday’s matchup against Ticonderoga. Although Strack came up empty in the batter’s box in the contest, he threw a complete game shutout to earn the win on the mound.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
"We committed 15 errors in our first two games, and we've had just two in our last three games, and that's been the difference," Munn said. "It was a tough preseason. We had a ton of errors early on. Fielding ground balls off the gym floor is a lot different than being outside. Our guys have settled in and they are playing really good defense."
Munn said his players were a bit jumpy at the plate during the first two innings Wednesday as Ticonderoga's starting pitcher Ty Denno only threw 11 pitches to record his first six outs of the game. Junior Dylan Gunther was the only Red Storm player to reach base early when he doubled in the first but was left stranded.
The Saranac Lake offense then got going in the third inning, as Red Storm batters rapped out four singles on the way to taking a 4-0 lead. The Red Storm tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the fourth and rounded out the scoring with four more runs in their final at-bat, including three that came when Shumway launched a pitch over the right field fence on a shot that nearly landed on the LaPan Highway.
The Sentinels had their chances to plate runners, but couldn't come through in the clutch. Their best opportunity to climb back in the game came in the top of the fifth. In that inning, Ticonderoga had the bases loaded with no outs, but Strack and his Red Storm teammates came out of the inning unscathed when he fanned Sentinels clean-up hitter Jordan Woods for the third out.
The Sentinels also put two runners on base in the next inning but came up empty again.
"We didn't execute with runners on base," Ticonderoga head coach Dan Dorsett said. "It's one spot we've struggled at in our last two games. We didn't score any runs our last time out, and this makes two in a row. I think our kids are thinking about it too much instead of just playing and having fun."
Ticonderoga had nine hits, which were all singles. Mark Donohue led the way with three singles, and teammates Aaron Bush and Blake Gautreau each finished with two hits.
Strack recorded eight strikeouts in the victory. Denno went four innings on the mound and was tagged with the loss. He was replaced by Tanner Wright.
Shumway continued his torrid play at the plate to lead the Red Storm. The junior finished with three hits and five RBI, and now has 10 hits in 17 at-bats for the season. Gunther also finished with three hits, Logan Wood went 2-for-4 for Saranac Lake, and Nick Bayruns and Jon McCabe each chipped in a single in the win.
In their past two starts, the Red Storm have recorded 31 hits and 26 runs, while committing just one error, which came in Wednesday's matchup.
"It's been a progression," Munn said. "Now that we're getting our feet under us, the guys are really playing some great baseball."
Saranac Lake will be at home again Friday, hosting Beekmantown in a game slated to start at 4:30 p.m.
Saranac Lake 10, Ticonderoga 0
SL - Strack and Gunther. Ti - Denno, Wright (5) and Bush. WP - Strack. LP - Denno. 2B - Gunther (SL). HR - Shumway (SL)