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Briarcliff Baseball Hangs on for Quarterfinal Win

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – Briarcliff pitcher Paul Henshaw had just let another runner on base in the top of the seventh inning. The Bears’ 3-0 lead had dwindled to 3-2, and Putnam Valley had runners in scoring position.

Henshaw’s teammates gathered around him on the mound and delivered a message.

“They just said, ‘Relax. Keep doing your thing. You’ve got to get this guy, bear down and just keep doing what you’re doing,’” Henshaw said.

He did just that, retired the final batter, and the top-seeded Bears held on for a 3-2 victory in the quarterfinals of the Section 1 Class B playoffs. Briarcliff will face No. 5 Dobbs Ferry, which defeated Pleasantville earlier Saturday, on Monday.

Henshaw gave up a few hits in the top of the seventh inning and admitted to some fatigue in the blisteringly hot sun of the early afternoon. An errant throw from the shortstop to first base with two outs prolonged the inning, but Henshaw induced a ground ball toward first to end the game.

The Bears are used to scoring plenty of runs but found themselves in a low-scoring affair on Saturday. Senior catcher Colin Orr said patience is crucial in such a game.

“You’ve just got to try to not get frustrated with the bats, cause you’ve still got to pitch and play defense,” Orr said. “I think we did a good job playing some D today. … You’ve just got to stay focused when you’re not hitting.”

Junior pitcher and outfielder Matt Pasternak pinch-hit in the bottom of the sixth inning and recorded what turned out to be the game-winning hit for the Bears. Henshaw praised his teammate after the game, particularly because Pasternak “didn’t really play all season.”

The Bears now have a date with Dobbs Ferry in the semifinals. Orr said he expects a great game as both teams will probably throw their aces on the mound. Henshaw is somewhat familiar with the Eagles and he, too, awaits the opportunity to battle them.

“I know a couple of kids from summer baseball. I’ve played with them and I know they’re a good team,” Henshaw said. “I know they can hit and I’m looking forward to it.”

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