Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hoosic Valley wins do-or-die battle for playoff spot; Uncle Sam schedule

Win and get in.
The message could not get any simpler for Tamarac and Hoosic Valley as the two 6-7 teams met in the Wasaren League finale Thursday afternoon at Chapko-Lewis Stadium in Valley Falls.

The Bengals climbed out to an early lead in what looked to be a pitcher's duel, but the Indians clubbed their way back into the game by batting around in both the fifth and sixth innings, handing Tamarac a 12-6 defeat.

Hoosic Valley (7-7, 11-7) advances to the Section II playoffs for only the second time in school history after finishing with a .500 record in league play.
They are on a tremendous hot streak, winning five of their last six games (the only loss to Wasaren winner Granville) and capturing the title in the Wafterford-Cohoes Wood Bat Tournament, the first tournament title in Hoosic Valley baseball history.

"We are a come-from-behind team," Hoosic Valley leadoff hitter and center fielder Alex Kugler said. "We usually don’t pick it up until the fifth or sixth inning, as proven by (Thursday’s game). We’re a late comeback team."

The Indians pounded out 18 hits in the game, paced by three singles each from Matt Clickner and Ron Morello.

Clickner (above, catching in a game earlier this year against Granville) also caught Chad Houle's complete game, 11-strikeout performance, drawing praise from Hoosic Valley head coach Boyd Hunt. Hunt lets Clickner call the whole game behind the plate and said he'll be kicking himself next year after Clickner graduates.

It was clearly an emotional victory for the Indians, who have seen their share of misfortune this year, including a 20-1 drubbing at the hands of Granville on April 23.

Hunt, who said he was bouncing off the walls all day and found himself working on the mound at Chapko-Lewis at 6:45 a.m., thought back to the years he spent coaching this group as junior varsity players.

"Hard work pays off," said Hunt. "That’s one thing I’ve preached to these guys the last four years. I knew them when they were JV kids. We practiced until 5:30 or 6 o’clock when the varsity team was going home. The kids would ask, ‘Coach, can we go home?’ And I would say, ‘Nope. We’re not ready to play’."

They'll have their hands full with whoever they draw in the Class CC bracket, but the Indians proved on Thursday that they're finally ready to play.

Tamarac starting pitcher Chris Ryan (pictured above in a victory over Maple Hill earlier this season) was knocked out of the game in the fifth, but kept the Bengals competitive through the early stages of the game. He added two doubles at the plate and finished with a run scored and two RBI.


Josh Johnson dominated the game from behind the plate early on for the Bengals. He picked two runners off at first base, caught two runners trying to steal second and made a tough put out at home plate to preserve a tie game in the fourth inning.

Still, it wasn't quite enough to earn Bengals head coach Dave Bestle another trip to the postseason, which had become a habit of his in 15 years at Lansingburgh. Still, Bestle, who won his 250th career game last week, had a blast in his first year of coaching in Brunswick.

"It’s sad because all the seniors…but I have to tell you, they really worked hard and for me, a first year coach, they made it easy on me," Bestle said. "This is a bittersweet time knowing 75% of my team is going to no longer be here. It went really fast. I’m not really sure where the time went, but I wish all the guys luck. I have some terrific guys. The Ryans are terrific kids. Tyler Shaw, he showed what a great athlete he is and what he can do here. And Josh behind the plate. I have a few of these guys coming back but I’m certainly going to miss this group, which was my first group here at Tamarac.
"We’ll be back after it next year."

--


The 2009 Uncle Sam high school baseball tournament will be played this Saturday at Knickerbacker Park in Lansingburgh.

Varsity
(on Lansingburgh Royals field, Knickerbacker Park)
11 a.m. - Catholic Central vs. La Salle
2 p.m. - Troy vs. Lansingburgh
5 p.m. - Championship game

Junior varsity
(at Lansingburgh High School field)
11 a.m. - Lansingburgh vs. La Salle
2 p.m. - Lansingburgh/La Salle winner vs. Troy in championship game

It looks to be a great day for baseball in Troy (especially if the rain holds off) and should be a good test for the Knights as they prepare for the Section II Class A tournament.

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