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Sectional baseball: Blue Devils will be battling history in Class AA

Tuesday, May 21, 2013
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Saratoga Catholic's Lane Gannon, misses the tag on Fort Plain's Joey Ray at 2nd base at Fort Plain High School Tuesday.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber
Saratoga Catholic's Lane Gannon, misses the tag on Fort Plain's Joey Ray at 2nd base at Fort Plain High School Tuesday.

— Doug LaValley can reach 150 career coaching victories if his Guilderland baseball team defeats Ballston Spa today in a first-round game of the Section II Class AA tournament.

He’s had more significant wins, though, when his Dutchmen claimed area large-school champ­ionships in 2007 and again in 2010.

“I’ll tell you something about this tournament,” LaValley said Monday after pairings for this year’s event were released. “It’s tough to repeat.”

Columbia will be the latest team to give it a go in a bracket that’s never had a repeat winner since it was instituted in 2003.

Columbia (15-1, 17-3), the No. 1 seed ahead of LaSalle (14-2, 15-5), will also be striving to become the first team to claim a trio of Class AA crowns. Columbia also prevailed in 2009, Shaker topped the field in 2003 and 2011 and LaSalle finished on top in 2004 and 2009.

“You’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game, or you can get knocked out by anybody,” said LaValley.

Columbia edged Ballston Spa, 4-3; eliminated Guilderland, 2-1; and outlasted Shenendehowa in nine-innings, 3-2, to secure last season’s championship.

“There are so many good teams out there,” said Columbia coach Chris Dedrick. “You take it one game at a time, and never look ahead. You prepare for an opponent and execute a game plan. That’s always been our approach.”

Columbia will host today’s Ballston Spa (No. 9, 8-8, 10-10) at Guilderland (No. 8, 8-8, 9-11) winner Thursday when all of the tournament’s quarterfinals are held. All semifinals are Saturday, with title games next week. First-round contests are also scheduled for today in Class B and Class C.

“It will be our third time with Guilderland or our second time with Ballston Spa. They are two teams that always play us tough,” said Dedrick. “It looks like we’re going to beat each other up again.”

Ballston Spa beat Saratoga Springs, 10-5, Thursday in its final Suburban Council game to clinch its playoff spot and win for the seventh time in its last 11 league outings. Guilderland needed to win its final three Suburban Council games to get in, and beat Mohonasen (20-4), Averill Park (8-0) and then Colonie (13-3) Friday.

“The kids are playing better now than they were, and they have more confidence,” said LaValley. “We’re starting to get hits in big spots. We scored a decent amout of runs in our last few games.”

Guilderland beat Ballston Spa, 4-3, in the only meeting between the teams, in a 14-inning marathon.

Columbia’s only league glitch came early, when Class A Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake scored six runs in the seventh inning to pull off a 7-6 upset. The Blue Devils rattled off 12 straight Suburban Council wins afterward to defend their South Division championship.

“That was an eye-opener,” said Dedrick. “We got a positive out of it because it refocused our kids. The kids got hungry.”

Columbia has a deep pitching staff with Travis Sowards (5-0), A.J. Maney (4-0) and Codey Piel (4-1), and a lineup that combined for a .391 batting average and 21 home runs. Maney, Ryan Henchey and Ryan Puentes sit in the three through five batting slots.

“We have some speed, we have some power and we have several good contact hitters,” said Dedrick. “There’s nice balance there.”

The last two Class AA final fours have been all-Suburban Council affairs. Seeded behind Big 10 champ LaSalle is Shenendehowa (13-3, 17-3) and Shaker (12-4, 14-5), the Suburban Council’s leading teams from the North Division.

Peltz gets call

Queensbury senior Charlie Peltz will take a streak of three straight no-hitters into Thursday’s Class A quarterfinal with Amsterdam (No. 7, 9-7, 11-8). The Foothills Council champion Spartans (No. 2, 12-2, 14-5) are seeded

No. 2 behind Lansingburgh (13-1, 13-7), the Colonial Council Liberty Division winner.

“Early in the season when he got behind in the count, guys were catching up with his fastball,” Queensbury coach Jay Marra said of Peltz, who has committed to the University at Albany. “Now, they don’t know what’s coming.”

That’s because Peltz has been using a new cutter to go with his fastball and change. The combin­ation helped him hold Hudson Falls, Glens Falls and South Glens Falls without a hit in his last three starts. Peltz (7-0) is believed to have tied the state record with his three consecutive no-hitters.

“He just kept going and going,” Marra said of watching the pitching gems. “You think someone is bound to get a hit, and he makes another great pitch.”

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (No. 5, 8-8, 12-8) will travel to Scotia-Glenville (No. 4, 11-3, 13-7) for one of the Thursday’s Class A openers. Burnt Hills won both the Section II and state titles in 2011, while Glens Falls took area honors a year ago.

Patroon Conference champion Chatham (13-1, 14-4), Sar­atoga Catholic (13-3, 16-4), Corinth (No. 3, 12-4, 14-5) and Schalmont (No. 4, 11-4, 16-4) are the Class B top seeds. Saratoga Central Cath­olic won three straight Class B flags and four in five years before Albany Academy’s run to the top in 2012.

“We have to tighten it up defensively and get more timely hits,” said Saints coach Phonsey Lambert, whose lineup includes four soph­omores and a freshman. “The way we hit at our tournament over the weekend was encouraging.”

An unbeaten run through the Western Athletic Conference, which included two wins over Sar­atoga Catholic, helped Fort Plain (16-0, 17-2) get the No. 1 Class C seed. The top-heavy class also features Central Hudson Valley League champion Rensselaer

(No. 2, 12-0, 15-3), Adirondack League West Division titlist Lake George (No. 3, 15-1, 15-4), Wasaren League co-champs Greenwich (No. 4, 12-2, 18-2) and Hoosic Valley (No. 5, 12-2, 18-2), and WAC Southern Division co-champs Duanesburg (No. 6, 12-4, 12-7) and Schoharie (No. 7, 12-4, 12-6).

“There’s eight or nine good teams in it,” said Fort Plain coach Craig Phillips. “A lot of good teams are going to be gone early. Someone with a lower seed may end up winning it all.”

That’s that happened last season, when Voorheesville, the No. 8 seed, capped a four-game streak of success by downing No. 6 Hoosick Falls in the final.

Fort Plain is the lone team to have received a first-round bye, and will host Hoosick Falls (No. 8, 9-5, 16-4) or Maple Hill (No. 9, 9-5, 14-6) Thursday. Fort Plain captured six Class C banners in eight years before season’s quarterfinal loss to Hoosick Falls.

“We’ve got our pitchers [Marcus Failing, Chris Hanifin] lined up and we put the ball in play,” said Phillips, Section II’s all-time wins leader with 694. “Defense is the key.”

Adirondack League East Division and overall champ Fort Ann (15-1, 16-2) is the No. 1 Class D seed. The Cardinals gave won four of the last six Section II small-school titles.

CLASS AA

First round

Today

9. Ballston Spa (8-8, 10-10) at 8. Guilderland (8-8, 9-11), 4 p.m.

Quarterfinals

Thursday

Ballston Spa/Guilderland at 1. Columbia (15-1, 17-3), 4 p.m.; 5. Schenectady (10-6, 12-7) at 4. Shaker (12-4, 15-4), 4 p.m.; 6. Christian Brothers Academy (10-6, 11-9), 4 p.m.; 7. Bethlehem (11-5, 15-5) at 2. La­Salle (14-2, 15-5), 4 p.m.

Semifinals

Saturday

At Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, 4 and 7 p.m.

Championship

Thursday, May 30

At Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, 7 p.m.

———

CLASS A

Quarterfinals

Thursday

8. Catholic Central (7-9, 11-9) at 1. Lansingburgh (13-1, 13-7), 4 p.m.; 5. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (8-8, 12-8) at 4. Scotia-Glenville (11-3, 13-7), 4 p.m.; 6. South Glens Falls (8-6, 11-9) at 3. Troy (13-3, 15-5), 4 p.m.; 7. Amsterdam (9-7, 11-8) at 2. Queensbury (12-2, 14-5), 4 p.m.

Semifinals

Saturday

At Saint Rose, 1 and 4 p.m.

Championship

Tuesday, May 28

At Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, 7 p.m.

———

CLASS B

First round

Today

9. Broadalbin-Perth (7-7, 9-8) at 8. Alb­any Academy (9-6, 11-8), 4 p.m.; 11. Cohoes (7-7, 10-10) at 6. Johnstown (9-5, 13-7), 4 p.m.; 10. Fonda-Fultonville (9-6, 11-7) at 7. Hudson (9-5, 10-7), 4 p.m.

Quarterfinals

Thursday

Broadalbin-Perth/Albany Academy at 1. Chatham (13-1, 14-4), 4 p.m.; 5. Catskill (10-4, 12-6) at 4. Schalmont (11-4, 16-4), 4 p.m.; Cohoes/Johnstown at 3. Corinth (12-4, 14-5), 4 p.m.; Fonda-Fultonville/Hudson at 2. Saratoga Catholic (13-3, 16-4),

4 p.m.

Semifinals

Saturday

At Bleecker Stadium, 1 and 4 p.m.

Championship

Tuesday, May 28

At Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, 4 p.m.

———

CLASS C

First round

Today

9. Maple Hill (9-5, 14-6) at 8. Hoosick Falls (9-5, 14-6), 4 p.m.; 12. Whitehall (9-7, 10-8) at 5. Hoosic Valley (12-2, 18-2), 4 p.m.; 13. Hadley-Luzerne (8-8, 9-11) at 4. Greenwich (12-2, 18-2), 4 p.m.; 11. Canajoharie (10-6, 10-6) at 6. Duanesburg (12-2, 12-7), 4 p.m.; 14. Stillwater (7-7, 9-8) at 3. Lake George (15-1, 15-4), 4 p.m.; 10. Voorheesville (9-6, 13-7) at 7. Schoharie (12-4, 12-6), 4 p.m.; 15. Mechanicville (5-9, 8-12) at 2. Rensselaer (12-0, 15-3), 4 p.m.

Quarterfinals

Thursday

Maple Hill/Hoosick Falls at 1. Fort Plain (16-0, 17-2), 4 p.m.; Whitehall/Hoosic Valley vs. Hadley-Luzerne/Greenwich at highest seed, 4 p.m.; Canajoharie/Duanesburg vs. Stillwater/Lake George at highest seed, 4 p.m.; Voorheesville/Schoharie vs. Mech­anicville/Rensselaer at highest seed, 4 p.m.

Semifinals

Saturday

At Shuttleworth Park, 1 and 4 p.m.

Championship

Wednesday, May 29

At Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, 7 p.m.

———

CLASS D

Quarterfinals

Thursday

8. St. Johnsville (5-11, 8-11) at 1. Fort Ann (15-1, 16-2), 4 p.m.; 5. Mekeel Christian Academy (9-7, 10-10) at 4. Warrensburg (9-7, 9-9), 4 p.m.; 6. Salem (8-8, 9-9) vs. 3. Loudonville Christian (9-3, 10-5) at Cook Park, 4 p.m.; 7. Argyle (8-8, 8-8) at 2. Germantown (9-3, 13-5), 4 p.m.

Semifinals

Saturday

At East Field, 1 and 4 p.m.

Championship

Wednesday, May 29

At Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, 4 p.m.

 
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