VESTAL, N.Y. — West Islip baseball coach Shawn Rush expected to see something special Saturday when his team faced the third overall pick in Major League Baseball’s amateur draft. He may have been disappointed in the result of the game, but Shenendehowa righthander Ian Anderson certainly didn’t let him down.
“When you come up here, you expect to see a good pitcher, and I think we saw the best,” Rush said after the Lions’ 3-0 loss to Shenendehowa in the state Class AA semifinals at Binghamton University. “If you’re a competitor, you want to see the best.”
Anderson, who was chosen by the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night, struck out eight, scattered five hits and retired 11 of the last 12 Lions.
Anderson said there was never a doubt in his mind that he would make this start.
“I’ve played my whole high school career for this chance,” he said, “so it was a no-brainer.”
Anderson pounded the zone with his fastball and mixed in a curveball and changeup, both of which became more effective as the game progressed. West Islip (25-6) did not have a leadoff batter reach base until Nick Valenti (3-for-3) singled to start the seventh. The Lions did not get a runner past first base after the second inning, when they loaded the bases in a scoreless game.
In that frame, Valenti singled with one out and Greg Tsouprakos and Jon Risedorf singled with two outs. Anderson powered a fastball by Kyle O’Neill to escape without allowing a run.
“Ian got out of his jam, and we couldn’t do anything to capitalize on it,” Lions first baseman James Kory said.
Shenendehowa (20-5) scored its three runs in the bottom of the second. Joe Fraser laced Ray Weber’s first-pitch fastball to center for a leadoff single and Richard Drum reached on a soft liner that landed in leftfield. With the bases loaded and one out, Mike Jeffers lined a two-run single to right-center. Nick Jacques’ two-out single to left knocked in Frank Pizzo.
“When you’re facing teams of this caliber, when you get a chance, you’ve got to capitalize in a big game,” Rush said. “Hats off to them. They did. The balls dropped for them. Unfortunately for us, they didn’t. That’s baseball.”
Even though the season ended a game earlier than West Islip would have liked, the Lions will not forget their experience upstate.
“Looking back someday,” Rush said, “Nick Valenti will say he went 3-for-3 against a kid who was the third overall draft pick.”
“This was just a great season,” said Weber, who is committed to Albany. “I’m proud of all the guys. A lot of the juniors will be up here next year, hopefully. I’m just proud of this team. It was a great experience.”