Saturday, July 19, 2008

Colonie Completes Undefeated Run - Captures Mack Crown

The South Colonie Raiders won the 2008 Upper New York Connie Mack Tournament title on Saturday - thanks to an unlikely hero.
Chris Smith, who came off the bench to deliver a game-changing pinch-hit bunt in the sixth inning, came in with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh to shut the door on the Clifton Park Yankees.
He did just that, freezing CP's Bryan Hunter on the third strike, wrapping up Colonie's 11-8 victory.

"I just wanted to move the runners over, hoping to get them across," Smith said of his big pinch-hit appearance.
A Clifton Park fielding error on the play allowed the go-ahead run to score, putting Colonie up 5-4.

Colonie went undefeated through the UNY tourney and had to defeat Clifton Park twice in two days to take the title. In five games, they outscored their opponents 48-29.

The Raiders crushed a pair of homers - one from Joe Poleto and another from Mike Cieszko.
Cieszko, a sophomore-to-be at RPI, is a newcomer to the team, although most of the Colonie players have been together since they were about ten years old.
"It's my first year on the team but I get along great with the guys," Cieszko said. "There's great chemistry on this team. Everyone contributes."

Colonie manager Ed Kelly was doused with the remnants of the water cooler after the game, and while mopping up from the incident, admitted that this was a long-term goal for the Raiders.
"We were indoors in March, working on our hitting," Kelly said, "and we had goals in mind. One of those goals was winning this tournament."

The Raiders will move on to the North Atlantic Regional, which begins this Wednesday in Troy. Playing sites are RPI and Geer Field, but the full schedule is still TBA. The South Troy Dodgers Elite squad is also entered in the tournament.

Wrapping up the UNY tourney on Saturday was a big plus for Colonie.
"Last year we finished on Tuesday," Kelly said. "Now we get three days to rest."
"We're confident, but we can't let our guard down," said Cziesko, "especially against these great teams we've never faced or seen before."

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