Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gaston's arm lifts Royals to Oklahoman World Series berth

William Montgomery
The Record

TROY - Mark Uhmann knows exactly how far it is to Owasso, Okla. right off the top of his head – 1,471 miles.
Thanks to an outstanding pitching performance from Zeb Gaston, Uhmann, the head coach of the Lansingburgh Royals’ 15-and-under Mickey Mantle team, will finally be taking his team there for the American Amateur Baseball Congress World Series.
Gaston twirled a complete game and struck out seven while not allowing an earned run, lifting the Royals to a 3-1 victory over Niskayuna in the championship game of the Upper New York State 15-and-under Mickey Mantle tournament at Knickerbacker Park.
"We’ve been talking about it ever since last year when we got to the championship and we didn’t win," Gaston said.
A 5-foot-2, Gaston, who enters his sophomore year at Troy High this fall, does not strike the most intimidating presence on the mound. But with an impressive mix of off-speed pitches and a knack for the strike zone, Gaston gave the Royals the innings they needed two days after throwing 120 pitches in an early-round game.
"As an 11-year-old, I tried to get him," Uhmann said. "As a 12-year-old, I tried to get him to come over, but not until he was 13 was I able to coax him to come to my team. Once I got him on my side, I knew it was going to lead to good things."
Gaston pumped first pitch strikes past the Niskayuna batters and did not walk a single one. Niskayuna stranded six runners on base, including a pair of runners in scoring position in the first inning.
"They always play good defense behind me when I’m pitching," said Gaston, who also mans second base and shortstop for the Royals.
Mackenzie Carpenter paced the Royals offense, but when he singled in the first inning, Gaston was thrown out at the plate to end the frame. Carpenter doubled and scored as part of Lansingburgh’s two-run fourth inning.
Catcher Anthony Rogusto put the first run on the board after being hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and shortstop Mike Sunkes drove in the game-winning run on an RBI groundout.
Lansingburgh ran itself out of rallies in the first, second and third innings. Gaston was nailed at the plate in the first, and runners were caught stealing second in each of the next two innings. Gaston walked and scored an insurance run on a throwing error in the fifth inning.
The Royals qualified for the New York State tournament two years ago and lost in the championship round in 2008. Lansingburgh is 27-8 in 2009 and they attribute much of that success to the special bond that the players on this team have.
"We’re a team that keeps our guys together," Uhmann said. "Most of these guys have been with me since they were 10. We’re a home-based team, we’re from Troy. We made a couple of additions from outside the city and that’s it."
The World Series begins on Aug. 4. and the Royals organization has plenty of logistical work to do in the meantime. Transportation, lodging and chaperones all need to be arranged and they also need to figure out a way to pay their way.
"It’s 22 hours and it’s going to be an enjoyable ride," Uhmann laughed. "We’re going to drive and probably take a couple of vans. We’re not a high-budget team. We’re a small-budget team, we’ve always been. We’ll be making a lot of phone calls looking for people to donate to us and work on the transportation angle."

Lansingburgh 3, Niskayuna 1
Niskayuna Lansingburgh
ab r h bi ab r h bi
Callahan ss 4 0 1 0 Gaston p 1 1 0 0
McGonigle cf 3 0 1 0 Maldonado 3b 3 0 1 0
Helenek 3b 2 0 1 0 Uhmann 2b 3 0 0 0
Clock 1b 3 0 0 0 Carpenter lf 3 1 2 0
Brown 2b 3 0 0 0 Jordan cf 3 1 1 0
Houghtaling p 3 1 1 0 Grayson 1b 2 0 0 0
Hoffman c 3 0 2 0 Rogusto c 1 0 0 1
Scisci rf 3 0 0 0 Sunkes ss 2 0 0 1
Kozakiewicz lf 2 0 0 0 Yaeger rf 2 0 1 0
a-Marvell ph 1 0 0 0
Totals 27 1 6 0 Totals 19 3 5 2
Niskayuna ........................................000 100 0 - 1 6 2
Lansingburgh ..................................000 210 x - 3 5 1
a-flied out for Kozakiewicz in seventh.
E-Houghtaling, Callahan, Yaeger. LOB-Niskayuna 6, Lansingburgh 8. DP-Niskayuna 1 (Callahan, Brown and Clock). GIDP-Gaston. 2B-Hoffman, Carpenter. SB-Gaston. CS-Jordan, Maldonado. Sac.-Helenek, Maldonado.
Niskayuna ip h R erBB SO
Houghtaling, L 6 5 3 2 6 7
Lansingburgh ip h R er BB SO
Gaston, W 7 6 1 0 0 7
HBP-Rogusto, Gaston (by Houghtaling).

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