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Baseball: No. 1 Sabres waiting for an opponent

Friday, June 6, 2014
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Schalmont is playing a game of wait and see. It’s an enviable position for a baseball team seeking its first state final four berth.

“The only thing we have to figure out are the travel plans,” coach Bob Anderson said after his Sabres, the No. 1-ranked Class B team in the state, worked out Thursday. “We won’t find out until late [today], then we’ll go where we have to go.”

Saranac and Ogdensburg Free Academy meet today at 4:30 at St. Lawrence University in a regional semifinal. Schalmont goes to that winner’s field Saturday for a 4:30 contest to determine the Section II-VII-X state final four representative.

Several Schalmont assistants will be scouting the Saranac (Sec. VII, 8-7)-OFA (Sec. X, 10-5) contest.

“It’s a plus for us, having them play a game before they play us. They’ll use up pitching,” said Anderson. “It will be interesting to see if they roll the dice and go with a No. 2.”

Schalmont (23-1) will go with its No. 1 in senior lefty Greg Musk, whose 7-0 mark includes a school-record five shutouts. The Colonial Council co-MVP also has two saves and is batting .379 from the leadoff spot.

“He’s had a fantastic season,” Anderson said of Musk. “He deserves the ball and he wants the ball.”

Musk fired a two-hitter when Schalmont beat Fonda-Fultonville in the Section II Class BB-B playoff, 8-1, and advanced to its second consecutive state tournament. Matt Capovani (8-1) hurled a two-hitter when the Sabres beat Johnstown for the Class B title, 6-1.

“Everyone seems to relax when he [Musk] is on the mound,” said Anderson. “They know he’s going to do his job, and if they do their job, we’ll be okay.”

Schalmont will take a 19-game winning streak into the regional final. Part of the streak were 4-0 wins over Albany Academy and Cairo-Durham in the sectionals. The Sabres have nine shutouts in all and a combined 0.88 ERA, and are batting a collective .317 with 70 stolen bases.

“We’re ready to face whoever we have to face. Our pitching has been our bread and butter all year long. It’s been incredible, as well as our defense,” said Anderson. “We’re swinging the bats well, too. Against Fonda, Johnstown and Shenendehowa in our scrimmage [Wednesday], we had good at-bats.”

Schalmont beat Beekmantown, 10-3, in a regional semifinal last year, but was held to three hits in a 3-1, nine-inning loss to OFA in the title game. Then-senior Breton LaRose struck out 23 in that game for OFA.

“We needed to make adjustments at the plate, and didn’t do that,” Anderson said of that loss to OFA, which left him a win shy of 300. “We’ve been doing that this year.”

Schalmont has 10 players who saw action in some capacity in that last game last year, including batting leader Dom Toma (.492) and RBI leader John Pascarella (22).

“At the beginning of the season, we set some team goals. Aside from taking care of business in the league, we wanted to get back to the sectional final and get back here,” said Anderson. “One of the hardest things is to get out of Section II because there’s so many good teams. That should help us out in this spot.”

Ogdensburg beat Potsdam in the Section X final, 5-3, with Kinnon LaRose hitting a grand slam for the Blue Devils. Saranac beat Plattsburgh in the Section VII final, 6-5.

Anderson has two sons on the Shenendehowa (22-1) team that will host Auburn (Section III, 12-9) in a Class AA regional final Saturday at 7 at Joe Bruno Stadium. Ian Anderson has pitched as a starter and in relief for the state’s No. 1-ranked team, and Ben Anderson is a catcher up from the junior varsity.

“I’ll be following the game,” said coach Anderson. “I’ve got Gamechanger, and people will be texting me. Hopefully, we’ll win and they win, and we’ll all be heading to Binghamton.”

Shenendehowa won its second straight area title with a 10-4 win against Christian Brothers Academy. John Novenche had three doubles and five RBI, and Bryan Warzek got the win in relief after blanking Niskayuna in a 5-0 semifinal win.

Auburn upset three higher seeds to get out of Section III, capped by an 8-7 win over Fayetteville-Manlius.

Shenendehowa will be trying to reach the state final four for the first time since 1996. The Plainsmen were denied last year with a 4-0 loss to Baldwinsville.

Averill Park (12-11), Hoosic Valley (20-3) and Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville (14-6) will play regional semifinal games today.

Averill Park made the state tourney for the first time by beating Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in the Section II Class A final, 2-1, behind Tyler Childrose’s three-hit, 12-strikeout pitching. Hoosic Valley advanced with a 3-1 Class C win over Maple Hill, and OESJ advanced with a 7-1 Class D win over 2013 state champ Fort Ann.

The Wolves will be the lone team to play inside Section II today, hosting Heuvelton (Section X, 17-2) at Shuttleworth Park at 4.

 
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