Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer baseball roundup, Friday, July 30

If you're hoping to keep track of the East Greenbush-Castleton Little League team in the New York State tournament, the West Nyack Little League homepage is a site to bookmark.

The champions of District 14 and Section 3 lost their first game in the New York State Little League tournament Thursday night, dropping a 6-0 decision to Stony Point at the West Nyack Little League complex.

East Greenbush-Castleton plays again Friday night against Sunrise.

Pool play continues through Saturday, with the semifinal scheduled for Sunday. The championship game will be played at 7:30 p.m. Monday night.

You can view a photo gallery of some of the East Greenbush-Castleton players at a pre-tournament barbecue by clicking to this website.

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If you're looking to keep track of the Spring Renegades 10-and-under team in the Willie Mays North Atlantic Regionals in Hackensack, N.J., well, you're in luck. Click here to see a tournament bracket.

The bad news for the Renegades? They've already been eliminated from the tournament and will not repeat as AABC World Champions.

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Next week, the Troy Renegades 15-and-under team begins play in the AABC's Ken Griffey Jr. World Series in Owasso, Okla. Owasso High School, the tournament host, has done a great job in years past of providing updates on its web site. Here is a tournament information sheet.

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The South Troy Dodgers 17-and-under Connie Mack team lost on its third day in the American Amateur Baseball Congress Don Mattingly World Series this past week in Albuquerque, N.M. For a tournament bracket, click to this page and scroll down.

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If I receive a UNYS Stan Musial update tonight, I will post that news here.

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Is there anything we're missing? Please let us know.

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Renegades looking to repeat as world champs; Nightmare notes


Last summer, the Spring Renegades nine-and-under baseball team won the AABC Jackie Robinson World Series.

This weekend, the team, now playing at the 10-and-under level, is competing in the Willie Mays North Atlantic regionals in Hackensack, N.J.

To read a story on the 10u Renegades written by Ryan Kircher that appeared in Friday's edition of The Reecord, click here.

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We also received the following note from Vince Cortese, manager of the 16-and-under Nightmare Fastpitch softball team.

The Nightmare team is heading to Dayton, Ohio to compete in the ASA Nationals August 4-8.

The Nightmare Fastpitch team played in eight tournaments this season. The team went 39-7, consisting of three first place finishes, which included ASA Invitationals in Saratoga Springs, Clifton Park and Amsterdam. The team also earned three second place finishes in South Glens Falls, Latham (Eastern National qualifier) and Albany.


Back Row (L-R): Justine Makinson, Laurel Abowd, Zoe Dubois, Danielle Groat, Shannon Morrill, and Ally Gehrer
Front Row (L-R): Jenna Cortese, Sam Lane, Becky Dickman, Jess Cohen, Angie Acierno.

This is Nightmare Fastpitch's first year together. The team features local high school stars such as Shannon Morrill (Hudson Falls), Jenna Cortese (South Glens Falls), Jess Cohen and Sammi Lane (Saratoga Springs), Danielle Groat and Becky Dickman (Ballston Spa), Ally Gehrer and Laurel Abowd (Bethlehem), Angie Acierno (Troy), Justine Makinson (Loudonville Christian) and Zoe DuBois (Burnt Hills).

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Albany Twilight League hosting AABC UNYS Stan Musial tournament this weekend

ALBANY – For the seventh time since 2000, the Albany Twilight League will host the American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC) Upper New York State Stan Musial Tournament from Friday through Sunday at Bleecker Stadium in Albany and Keenholts Park in Guilderland.

The tournament is a five- team field with the following teams having qualified:

All Stars Academy: 18-6 (2nd place Twilight)
Blue Slate Blue Hawks: 13-11 (4th place Twilight)
CNY Yankees: 14-6 (1st place Central NY League)
Tri-County Bees: 21-10 (1st place Eastern NY League)
Waterford Nolan Propane: 15-9 (3rd place Twilight)

The defending Twilight League and Upper NY State champion Albany Athletics (29-7-1 overall / 20-4 league) earned a BYE by capturing the best regular season record in the Twilight League, thus getting an automatic bid to the North Atlantic Regional tournament next weekend.

This weekend the State tournament opens Friday at Bleecker Stadium with Waterford facing the CNY Yankees at 1 pm, and at Keenholts Park All Stars takes on Tri-County Bees at 1 pm. Blue Slate drew a first round bye and will face the winner of the All Stars/Tri-County game Friday at 5 pm at Keenholts Park. The winner of the Waterford/CNY Yankees game will earn a bye to the third round.

The Twilight League has a streak of nine straight years where one of its teams have captured the State championship every year dating back to 2000. The Athletics have won eight of those championships (along with one more in 1998), Davies AC captured the title in 2003 and the Albany Senators in 2005. Apex Printing was the last Twilight League team to advance to the AABC National World Series back in 1989.

The winner of the State tournament will advance to the North Atlantic Regional Tournament at Bleecker and Keenholts from August 6-8, with the Regional winner moving on to the National World Series in Houston, Texas.

FRIDAY, JULY 30, 2010
ROUND #1 
GAME #1 1 PM Waterford Nolan Propane vs CNY Yankees Bleecker Stadium
GAME #2 1 PM All Stars Academy vs Tri-County Bees Keenholts Park
BYE: Blue Slate Blue Hawks

ROUND #2 
GAME #3 5 PM Loser GM #1 vs Loser GM #2 Bleecker Stadium
GAME #4 5 PM Blue Slate Blue Hawks vs Winner GM #2 Keenholts Park
BYE: Winner of Game #1

SATURDAY, JULY 31, 2010
ROUND #3 
GAME #5 * 11 AM Loser GM #4 vs Winner GM #3 Keenholts Park
GAME #6 * 2 PM Winner GM #1 vs Winner GM #4 Keenholts Park
* Pairings determined based on previous matchups, immediately following Round #2 if needed

ROUND #4 
GAME #7 ** 5 PM Teams TBD Keenholts Park
** Pairings AND bye determined (based on previous matchups AND previous bye) immediately following Round #3

SUNDAY, AUGUST 1, 2010
ROUND #5 
GAME #8 11 AM CHAMPIONSHIP Bleecker Stadium

ROUND #6 
GAME #9 2 PM CHAMPIONSHIP #2 (if necessary) Bleecker Stadium

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Troy High's Play it Smart golf outing looking for foursomes

Troy High's football program joined forces with the Play it Smart program in 2008 (click here to read my story about it from the time) which backs the Troy High coaching staff in offering its players off the field with additional help in the classroom and through community service events.

The team is hosting on August 8 at Frear Park Golf Course and is looking for a few more foursomes. For more information on how to sign up, click on the information sheet and sign-up forms posted below.

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Here is the text of a letter detailing the outing and the goals of the Play it Smart program:

Dear Friends and Families,

On August 8th, 2010 at Frear Park in Troy, we will be conducting our 2nd annual golf outing to help support the Troy High football Play it Smart program. The Play it Smart Program was established in 1998 by the National Football Foundation to emphasize academics in addition to the football component of a player’s life.

The six Play it Smart Goals are:
1. Improve Grade Point Average
2. Increase the number of students taking college entrance tests and improve their scores
3. Increase graduation rate
4. Enhance life skills development
5. Increase opportunities for community service
6. Increase parental and family involvement

Troy High was the only school in the Capital Region that was accepted into this national program and our involvement started during the summer of 2008 at the national conference in Texas. Play it Smart is funded by the Capital Region Sponsor a Scholar Program through private donations. We are very fortunate to be associated with Sponsor a Scholar, as they were selected the number one Not for Profit Organization in the Capital Region.

Play it Smart assisted students in taking all necessary college entrance tests. SAT tests were funded for all eligible seniors. Sophomores and Juniors were funded to take the PSAT tests. Seniors and juniors attended SAT Prep classes, numerous players received academic tutoring using RPI students and Troy teachers, college applications were subsidized for all seniors and student / athletes received assistance in completing NCAA Clearinghouse items.

Twenty two Play it Smart players received 172 college credits through the College in the HS program with HVCC and SUNY Albany and received financial assistance. Counseling services were provided to each student and family. This year’s seniors will be attending the following colleges: W.P.I., Hartwick, Morrisville, L.S.U., Dominican, Syracuse, and HVCC. Seven players are plan on continuing to play football on the college level and two plan on playing college lacrosse.

We are asking for your help to continue to provide these important services to our student / athletes by being a part of our golf outing. The attached flyer will give all details of the event and explain how you can become a part of the Play it Smart family.

Sincerely,

Jack Burger
Head Football Coach

Harry Peterson
Academic Coach
Play It Smart Golf Tourney 2010 Sign-up sheet

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Byrd flies into the Capital District Football Hall of Fame

On Friday, August 6, The Record will publish a special section recognizing the members of the first annual class of the Capital District Football Hall of Fame.

My assignment was to catch up with former La Salle Institute star George 'Butch' Byrd, a Watervliet native who went on to play at Boston University and later for the Buffalo Bills.


Remember to pick up a copy of The Record on August 6 to read all about the members of the first-ever Capital District Football Hall of Fame class, but for now, here is a sneak peak at my story on Byrd, along with a number of pictures I was able to scan from old La Salle yearbooks.

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TROY — One August morning in 1956, before he had even sat down in classroom as a freshman, George Edward ‘Butch’ Byrd Jr. crossed the Congress Street Bridge from his parent’s home on First Avenue in Watervliet to La Salle Institute’s practice field on Fourth Street and Canal Avenue.

Although he felt invincible in the black high tops his father had bought for him the day before at Cahill's Sports Store – Byrd remembers those cleats as “beautiful” - his mood was quickly dashed when he set foot on the field.

“Upon approaching the practice field and upper classmen, I suddenly realized I didn't know anyone,” Byrd wrote in an email message to The Record. “I guess I should have anticipated this, but it never dawned on me until that moment. For the first time in my life I truly felt alone and scared. If memory serves me correctly, there were about 75 junior varsity and varsity players assembled. I looked around for some friendly faces but found none.”

La Salle’s head coach, Dom Denio, came over to Byrd and told him to join the backs. Byrd thought that was a kind gesture, but minutes later, Denio, as football coaches are wont to do, was yelling and screaming at everyone in sight.

“I began to wonder if I or my parents had made a mistake in my going to La Salle,” Byrd wrote. “Was I good enough to play for them? At this moment it didn't seem like I was. I had no idea what real organized high school football was all about, especially at La Salle. No one ever yelled or screamed before in my direction. This was a new day and I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out.”

Byrd wound up in line for the punt return drill later that day, managing to shake off his nervousness. He caught all of the punts kicked his way and evaded most of the tacklers, too.

“On the way back from my first practice, several of the varsity players walked with me, telling me how well I practiced,” wrote Byrd. “Things were all uphill from that point on.”

Byrd earned the starting fullback position on the varsity team for the 1956 season and the rest, as they say, is history. La Salle’s football teams finished with a 22-6-1 record during Byrd’s high school career and he went on to play at Boston University and for the Buffalo Bills of the American Football League.

For everything he accomplished during a brilliant career on the gridiron, which all started that fateful day on the La Salle practice field, Byrd will be honored as part of the inaugural class of the Capital District Football Hall of Fame Saturday evening in a ceremony at the Colonie Elks.

Following his time at La Salle, Byrd, headed to Boston University, where he became three-year regular at running back and a punt and kick returner. He averaged 27.9 yards per kick return as a senior and finished with 26 receptions (three for touchdowns) and 250 receiving yards for his collegiate career.

Before his college career was over, Byrd was drawing interest from American Football League teams, particularly the Buffalo Bills. Before the 1963 AFL draft, however, a run-in with a legendary football figure changed his mindset on the defensive side of the ball.

Al Davis, the Oakland Raiders’ rookie head coach, saw Byrd in a 7-on-7 passing drill when the Raiders were holding a team practice at Boston University prior to a game against the Boston Patriots. Byrd dropped back to defend a pass and successfully knocked it to the ground, but Davis ran onto the field and screamed at Byrd, wondering why he did not intercept the ball instead.


The message stuck with him. Byrd, drafted by Buffalo in the fourth round with the 25th overall pick in the 1963 AFL draft, signed a $2,500 bonus to play right cornerback for the Bills. A three-time first team AFL selection by the Association Press, Byrd finished his career with 40 interceptions. That mark, as well as his career interception return yardage (666) and returns for touchdowns (5), stand as Bills franchise records to this day.


His rookie season was a revelation, as he intercepted seven passes and led the Bills to the 1964 AFL title. In 1965, he returned a punt for a touchdown in the AFL championship game against the San Diego Chargers, Buffalo’s second straight league title.

The NFL and the AFL merged in 1970. Byrd played that season in Buffalo before spending his final season, 1971, with the Denver Broncos.

Still, some of his fondest memories as an athlete were playing football, basketball and baseball at La Salle.

Byrd was an All-Troy fullback as a freshman and was a first team All-Troy selection on both sides of the ball his sophomore, junior and senior seasons.

La Salle won the Principal’s League title during each of Byrd’s four years there and tied for the Diocesan League title during his junior season.

In 1959, the Cadets finished 6-0-1, tied with Christian Brothers Academy atop the Diocesean League standings. CBA did lost a non-division game that year, finishing 5-1-1 overall.


According to La Salle’s 1960 Chevron yearbook, The members of the La Salle defense from the previous season were known as ‘Boland’s Bandits’ in honor of assistant coach Edward Boland. The Cadets pitched five shutouts during the 1959 campaign and allowed just 12 points the entire season.

At the time, high school football was markedly different than today’s game. La Salle’s football team, which did not have a home until Sutton Field was constructed in 2002, played its games at Hawkins Stadium in Watervliet or rented Catholic Central’s field in Lansingburgh for a game. Later on, the team used the field at Hudson Valley Community College.

In Byrd’s day, facemasks were often a just single bar, not the full cage and plastic visors familiar to contemporary football fans. Additionally, no sectional or state playoffs awaited teams upon completion of the regular season.

With an open date at the end of the 1959 season, the La Salle players begged for one more game.

“We went to Tom Farnam, La Salle's Athletic Director, to see if he would approach RPI to see if we could play their freshman team,” Byrd wrote. “He wouldn't hear of it.”




“That same year, Shaker High, in Latham, went undefeated and we again approached Mr. Farnam with the same request,” continued Byrd. “Both schools had an open date at the end of the season. Again Mr. Farnam said no and that was that. I particularly wanted to play them because I had gone to grade school (School 7) with some of the Shaker players.”


A five-time Pro Bowl player and a member of the Bills’ 25th and 50th anniversary teams – he was inducted into the Boston University Athletics Hall of Fame in 1980 - Byrd is still proud to be recognized as a Cadet and as a major player in the Capital District’s football history.


“In searching my memory, the lasting thought was how respected the La Salle team was around the Tri-City area,” wrote Byrd. “It didn't matter if it was Watervliet, Troy, Albany, Schenectady, Amsterdam, etc. If you played football for La Salle you were somebody. I can remember people both young and old being in awe because I played for La Salle.”
Butch Byrd Scribd Career Stats

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Kahnle signs with Yankees

Tommy Kahnle throws a pitch for the South Troy Dodgers during the summer of 2008. (Photo by Mike McMahon - The Record).

LATHAM — Tommy Kahnle’s travels on the road to professional baseball made a brief pit stop in the Capital Region Thursday.

Kahnle, a right handed pitcher who was drafted in the fifth round of the Major League First Year Player Draft by the New York Yankees in early June, spent most of this summer on Cape Cod. He pitched for the Brewster Whitecaps and the Bourne Braves of the Cape Cod Baseball League, hoping to improve his case for signing a professional contract.

This week, he did just that, reaching an agreement with the Yankees. Kahnle, who spoke with The Record Thursday via telephone, chose not to disclose the terms of the deal.

Kahnle stopped home on his way back from Cape Cod Thursday and will head to Staten Island Friday to report to the Yankees’ short season Class A team in the New York-Penn League. He will take a physical Monday and plans to be in uniform in the Staten Island bullpen that night.

Kahnle’s first professional homecoming will happen in two weeks when the Staten Island Yankees come to Joseph L. Bruno Stadium in Troy for a three-game set against the Tri-City ValleyCats on August 13-15.

“It’s going to be cool playing in my hometown,” said Kahnle. “I grew up watching the ValleyCats.”

Kahnle made 13 appearances on the Cape this summer with Brewster and Bourne, striking out 14 and walking nine in nine innings. He made three saves for Brewster.

A former three-sport star at Shaker High School, Kahnle spent his summers playing for the South Troy Dodgers, whose home field is just a hop, skip and a jump from Bruno Stadium.

He then attended Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., where as a freshman, he served as the team’s closer during its playoff run and threw the pitch for the final out in the NCAA Division II championship game victory over Emporia State.

Growing up as an only child, Kahnle started playing baseball when he was five years old and always dreamed of making it as a professional baseball player. Still, he had to thrive at Lynn to really believe he had a chance at the professional level.

“It was when I was a freshman in college when I realized it was possible,” he said.

Kahnle finished his freshman year with a 7-4 record, five saves and a 4.54 ERA in 20 appearances, 13 of which were starts.

A 6-foot, 225-pound flamethrower, Kahnle’s fastball has been clocked consistently in the mid 90 miles-per-hour range and has maxed out at 98.

Lynn used him as a starter during his sophomore season this spring, in which he finished with a 2-7 record and a 5.06 ERA in 74 and two thirds innings pitched.

Scouts, however, like his fastball in short-term bursts, feeling his inconsistency with the changeup and curveball limits his effectiveness as a starter.

“All the scouts have profiled me as a reliever,” Kahnle said. “I expect to be in the bullpen. That’s what I’m told.”

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Butler did it for EG-C LL - again

East Greenbush/Castleton's Anthony Butler celebrates going from first to third safely in front of Twin Town third baseman Sal Pezzolla during third inning of District 14 Little League baseball Championship action Thursday July 15, 2010 at East Greenbush. He also came up big Tuesday night in Chatham. (Photos by J.S. Carras/The Record).

CHATHAM — Pressure situations do not seem to bother East Greenbush-Castleton 11-12-year-old Little League slugger Anthony Butler. In fact, he seems to thrive on them.

With Tuesday’s Region 3 championship game against Rotterdam hanging in the balance, Butler blasted a two-run homer to snap a 7-7 tie, then slammed the door shut on a late rally in the bottom of the sixth to propel East Greenbush to a 9-8 victory and a berth in the New York State Championship Tournament.

Tuesday’s clutch play was nothing new for Butler, whose walk-off home run a year earlier against Colonie put the East Greenbush 11-year-old All-Stars into the state tournament.

“I normally come up big in big situations,” Butler said.


For the full story, click over to www.troyrecord.com


With the Section 3 title now in hand, East Greenbush/Castleton sets its sights on the state championship tournament, with the winner there moving on to play in the Mid-Atlantic Regionals in Bristol, Connecticut.

East Greenbush/Castleton will be in Pool B, along with teams from Section 4 (Montgomery or Stony Point) and Section 6 (Sunrise or North Babylon) Their first game is scheduled for Thursday at 7:45 p.m. against the Section 4 representative.

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And the rest of Tuesday's local roundup:
Little League
District 14 B Round Robin
East Greenbush Gold 3, Twin Town Blue 2:
Tommy Miller’s single in the seventh inning scored Tommy Donahue with the winning run.
Nick Raymond and Donahue each hit a double for East Greenbush. Miller struck out 14 in six innings for the victors.
Twin Town’s Colin Fazziola’s two-run single in the sixth inning tied score and forced extra innings.
Brunswick 8, Twin Town 7: Brandon Cellucci pitched two shutout innings to stop a Twin Town rally and record the victory.
Twin Town rallied to within a run in the fourth inning when Joe Vooris slammed a three-run homer.
Chris St. Dennis hit a three-run homer to give Brunswick an early lead it never relinquished.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Faces in the Crowd; midsummer news and notes

Here is an extended look at the teams that will likely be featured in our Faces in the Crowd segment this Sunday in The Record.

Sorensco Falcons Senior Babe Ruth

The Sorensco Falcons won the Eastern New York Senior Babe Ruth Championship at the Halfmoon Town Park in late July. The Falcons lost their first game in the tournament, but rallied, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 65-12. The Falcons had to beat the winner's bracket champion NE South two times in a row to take the title.

Led by the pitching efforts of Matt Busdiecker and James Vooris, the Falcons gave up just two runs in the final two games. The state title was capped off by a walk-off, three-run home run by Justin Rebhun, which gave the Falcons a 12-1 mercy rule win in the championship game.

The Falcons finished the year with a record of 19-12 and a State Championship banner to hang at Sorensco Babe Ruth.

Team photo: Standing (L-R): Coach Brian Fredericks, Tim Murdick, Zach Vandenburg, Matt Busdiecker, James Vooris, Ben Tidd, John Stanley, Coach Rich Tidd, Mgr Dan Renaud.
Kneeling (L-R): Ryan Clarke, Dan Williams, Steve Casavant, Justin Rebhun, Dillon Bethoney, Jeff Williams.
Not Pictured: Nick Faxon, Zac Larson.

New York Outkast 18-and-under softball

The New York Outkast 18U softball team won the inaugural 18U Cooperstown Classic this weekend in incredible fashion, going undefeated on Sunday despite playing the entire tournament with just nine girls.

After going 1-2 on Saturday, the Outkast reeled off three straight back-to-back wins Sunday to make the championship game. They knocked off Saratoga Thunder B 9-1 to start the day, then defeated the CNY Wildcats 4-2 and the Pittsburgh Power 8-6. Both of those wins avenged losses to those teams the day before. The Outkast overcame a 6-3 deficit in the dramatic comeback against the Power.

Since the tournament was double elimination, the Outkast met Pittsburgh again in the final. The Outkast pounded out 11 hits and got quality pitching to win 8-2 and take the title. The team had 43 hits over the four wins on Sunday.

Tournament MVP: Outkast Pitcher/OF Nikki Colamaria (Saratoga Springs): Colamaria, a rising senior, pitched 19 innings over the course of three games Sunday after the Outkast's other pitcher, Emily Fleming, injured her hand. She went 3-0 on Sunday with a 2.95 ERA and received the MVP medal in the ceremony after the championship game. She also made a diving catch in right field against in the 8-6 win over Pittsburgh, and delivered seven hits at the plate this weekend.

The other members of the Outkast (in the order of where they hit in the lineup):

SS, Shana Cooper (Cohoes): Hit .286 (6-21) and drew seven walks over the seven games. Also made a catch running into foul territory Sunday against the Wildcats while running into a wooden wall, stirring up memories of the famous catch made by Derek Jeter diving into the stands against the Red Sox.

OF, Meghan Matan (HVCC/Shaker): Hit .444 (12-27), .643 (9-14) on Sunday. She finished a home run short of the cycle in the 4-2 win against the Wildcats. Had four doubles and one triple.

P/OF, Emily Fleming (Saratoga Springs): Was 2-0 with a 3.26 ERA on the mound before injuring her hand on a play at the plate. She had at least one hit in every game on Sunday, and made many plays in right field after the injury.

1B, Bridgette Plummer (Utica College/Schuylerville): Hit .520 (13-25) over the weekend, with three doubles and 12 RBI. Broke a 6-6 tie in the first game against Pittsburgh Sunday with a two-run single in the top of the sixth.

C, Meagan Fleming (Saratoga Springs): Hit .280 (7-25) and caught all seven games for the Outkast over the two days. Went 3-4 with an RBI in the title game. Her ability to throw out baserunners stealing was crucial in keeping opposing teams out of scoring position.

2B, Ally Koney (Shenendehowa): Hit .458 (11-24) with a double and a triple, including going 2-3 in the championship game. Started the four-run rally in the first game against the Power with a leadoff single.

3B, Kylie Benoit (Catholic Central): Hit .389 (7-18) with four runs scored and laid down two important sacrifice bunts. Fielded a tough play in the hole and fired to first for the final out of the championship game.

CF, Alex Staroba (Guilderland): Hit .333 (7-21) with four doubles and six RBI while making many tough plays in centerfield. Her two-run double in the championship game was the "dagger," as it gave the Outkast a five-run cushion against a tough team.

Almost every player fought an injury at one point or another this weekend, but they fought through it with no subs to bring home the title. The two Flemings and Benoit have been a part of the Outkast for four years, while Cooper, Koney and Staroba have been on the team for the past three.

Team photo: Top Row, from left: Ally Koney, Bridgette Plummer, Meghan Matan, Meagan Fleming
Bottom Row: from left: Kylie Benoit, Nikki Colamaria, Alex Staroba, Shana Cooper, Emily Fleming

Saratoga Sparks 14-and-under AAU basketball

The Saratoga Sparks 14-and-under basketball team took sixth place in the 2010 AAU Girls Basketball National Championship Tournament held July 6-10 at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla. The team is comprised of Section II freshmen players who finished their regular AAU season undefeated with 30 wins. At the National Tournament, the Sparks were 5-3 against a field of the 40 best teams in the United States. The Sparks advanced all the way to the Elite Eight round.

The Sparks had qualified for the Nationals by winning the East Coast Super Regional tournament in Windsor, Conn. They also became one of only two local girls AAU team to ever win the prestigious GymRat Challenge Tournament held earlier in the year at Siena College.

At the Nationals they beat teams from Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and two from Pennsylvania. Outstanding players at the tournament were: Sydney Rosales and Madison Rowland, who scored a total of 87 and 83 points respectively; Madsion Rowland, who swiped 39 steals; Cassie Broadhead with 42 rebounds; and Ailaiya Demand, who scored a team high 25 assists and, whose two free throws with 0.8 seconds left gave the Sparks a one point victory.

The team is lead by head coach Anthony Mingione and assistant coach Serita Holland, who have put together this formidable team in only four short months. Most of the team members had not played together prior to the season.

Players on the team were: Kelsey Cowell of Mohanasen; Sidney Rosales and Jackie Welch of Colonie; Katherine Small of Holy Names; Madison Rowland of Shaker; Alyx Gleason, Brittany Lefebvre and Alyssia Marsal of Shenendehowa; Ailayia Demand and Lashana Tolliver of Watervliet; Sidney Hansen of Ballston Spa, and, Cassie Broadhead of Scotia.

The trip to the Nationals was made possible in large part by contributions by area residents and businesses. More information on the National Tournament can be found at http://aaugirlsbasketball.org/ and the Saratoga Sparks Girls AAU Basketball website is www.saratogasparks.org.

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Notes: It's an incredibly busy time of year, so here are a few hit-and-run topics.
  • Twin Town Little League is hosting the New York State 10-and-11-year-old Little League tournament from August 7-10. All games will be played at the Twin Town complex on Williams Road in North Greenbush. Time Warner Cable is in negotiations to broadcast the games on television.
  • The District 14 Little League tournament continues Monday night. A sectional championship game will be played Tuesday night at 6 p.m. in Chatham as the road to Williamsport continues.
  • Albany's Krank Park will play host to the Little League Softball Eastern Regional from July 31 to August 8. 11 state champions and a local host team will battle it out for a berth in the Little League Softball World Series, which is played in Portland, Ore.
  • Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School baseball coach Paul DeLuca writes to say that Spartans shortstop Bret Dennis, who has verbally committed to St. John's University, is playing for the Bayside Yankees in the CABA World Series in Charleston, S.C. this week.
  • The 10-and-under Spring Renegades baseball team is competing in a regional tournament this weekend in New Jersey with hopes of advancing to the World Series, which will be played in Puerto Rico. This team won the nine-and-under World Series last summer in Oklahoma.
  • The eight-and-under New York State Cal Ripken championship will be played Wednesday at Spring Youth Baseball in Troy.
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Oh, Canada: Ontario Blue Jays scored five runs in the final inning to prevent South Troy’s second straight trip to the Connie Mack World Series

An unidentified Ontario Blue Jays player wears the North Atlantic Connie Mack regional trophy on his forehead (the glass piece fell off when the team rounded second base) after Ontario defeated the South Troy Dodgers, 6-3, Monday afternoon at Geer Field. (Video captures by Will Montgomery).

TROY — The South Troy Dodgers were three outs away from clinching a second straight trip to the Connie Mack World Series.

And then the rally happened.

In the top of the seventh inning in the Connie Mack North Atlantic regional championship game, the Ontario Blue Jays, trailing by two runs, drew a pair of bases-loaded walks and hit three infield singles to score five runs.

Ontario Blue Jays players celebrate during their seventh inning rally Monday afternoon against the South Troy Dodgers. (Photo by Mike McMahon - The Record).

Rob Good relieved Ontario starter Eric Wood with two out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning. Good induced a pop-up to third base off the bat of South Troy’s Steve Anderson to cap a thrilling, 6-3, come-from-behind victory for the Blue Jays at Geer Field.

For the first time since 2001, when Ontario won the North Central region, the Blue Jays are headed to the Connie Mack World Series in Farmington, N.M.

“It’s the best moment of my life,” said Good. “This is the biggest thing we’ll ever do probably as ballplayers. It’s a great moment for us.”

Dave Roseboom throws a pitch during Monday's game against the Ontario Blue Jays. He gave the Dodgers 9.2 innings of one-run baseball. (McMahon photo).

Wood allowed 10 hits in his six and two thirds innings of work, but walked just one and struck out six while holding the Dodgers to three runs.

"I was on planet Mars the entire game," said Wood. "There was so much intensity. This team is the best. I love every single one of these kids on this team. And this guy (nods to Good) comes in here and shuts the door. I don’t even have the words to explain it."

Wilcox led the way for Ontario with two hits and two RBI. The Blue Jays are based in Mississauga, Ontario, which is just south of downtown Toronto. Ontario's 16-and-under Mickey Mantle team is also headed to an American Amateur Baseball Congress World Series.

"We are together a little bit longer and I think that helps," said Ontario head coach Dan Bleiwas. "I've had this group together since they were 16 with very few changes. A core. I think it helps just the belief they have in one another when we get in situations like this, trailing into the last inning. I’m at a loss for words."

South Troy’s Dave Roseboom started the first game of the day, an 11-1, five-inning mercy-rule victory for the Dodgers in which Matt Zanotta hit a three-run home run for the second straight day. Roseboom threw just 41 pitches in that game and returned to start game two. Roseboom pitched into the sixth inning, allowing one run on three hits with six strikeouts.


Dodgers closer Brian Tatelman relieved Roseboom with two out in the sixth and struck out Ontario’s Jim Martin on three pitches to end the inning. Tatelman returned in the seventh and struck out the first batter he faced but quickly unraveled from there. Six of the next seven batters to the plate reached base either by being hit by a pitch, drawing a walk or hitting an infield single.

"We play every time…like all our wins are by one runs or two runs," said Wood. "We never give up. It’s just the way we are. We never give up.

"It’s so typical us," Wood continued. "We’re always in the game. It doesn’t matter what the score is or who we’re playing."

Scott Wilcox plated Jevon Jacobs with the go-ahead run on an infield single before Martin drove in two more runs on a double to left field. Wilcox, trying to score on Martin's double, was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.

South Troy second baseman J.P. Sportman makes a throw during Monday's game. Sportman, the Dodgers' leadoff hitter, was 5-for-10 with four RBI in South Troy's final three games in the tournament.

“He’s our closer and it is what it is,” South Troy Dodgers head coach Kevin Rogers said of Tatelman’s seventh inning performance. “We can’t blame one person. We should have probably put some more runs on the board in certain situations.

“He actually did his job, the ball was just bouncing the wrong way,” Rogers continued. “There’s not much I can say about that. The kids battled all year. We put ourselves in the position we wanted to be in and we came up short.”

Roseboom, who threw 121 pitches in two games and finished the day with nine and two thirds innings pitched, having allowed one run, five hits, one walk while striking out 11. The University of South Carolina Upstate-bound lefty, who was also drafted in the 47th round by the Boston Red Sox this spring, proved to be the Dodgers’ ace Monday, despite what happened in the seventh inning.

“Dave did everything he could,” Rogers said. “He gave us 10 innings. We had ourselves in the right spot. Dave has been a bulldog for us since he was 13 years old. I tip my cap to the Canada team. They kept battling.”

South Troy was blocked from making a return trip to the Connie Mack World Series, a major disappointment for an organization that hosted a pair of World Series-berth tournaments this month.

“This program is built to go to World Series,” said Rogers. “Our 18-and-under team is one of the elite in the country, so we put ourselves up with the best teams in the country. We’re supposed to win games like this and get to New Mexico. That’s what we’re built for, but we’ll take a couple of weeks off and try it again next year.”

Notes: I didn't have room to fit this in the story for the paper, but Ontario head coach Dan Bleiwas was adamant about the following point:

"First, I want to extend my thank-yous to the people of Troy and Albany and specifically to George and Kevin Rogers, who run the South Troy Dodgers," Bleiwas said. "They are a class act. I can’t say enough about how gracious they’ve been. This year we came out on top. Often enough they’ve had the opportunity to do it. They're gracious in victory and gracious in defeat. They’re just classy people."

"This is our ultimate goal to get there and win the Connie Mack World Series in New Mexico," said Bleiwas. "We intend to go out there and compete to our best and represent this region well and by extension, all teams in this region, including the South Troy Dodgers."

The Ontario Blue Jays storm the field after recording the final out in the championship game of the North Atlantic Connie Mack regional tournament Monday afternoon at Geer Field.



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The recap from the first game of the day is below:
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The South Troy Dodgers exploded for seven runs in the third inning of Monday's game against the Ontario Blue Jays in the Connie Mack North Atlantic regional finals, capped by Matt Zanotta's three-run home run to right center field. The Dodgers posted an 11-1, five inning mercy rule victory, forcing a final championship game for all the marbles - a trip to Farmington, N.M. and the Connie Mack World Series - today at 1 p.m. at Geer Field.

South Troy starting pitcher Dave Roseboom kept the Blue Jays off the board for four innings, throwing just 41 pitches. The Dodgers brought in Kyle LaValley in the fifth, who got three outs and kicked the mercy rule into effect. Roseboom will certainly be available for another 50 pitches or so in Game Two.

Matt Zanotta watches the f light of his three-run home run in the third innings of Monday's game against the Ontario Blue Jays. He also hit a three-run home run in Sunday's victory over the Richmond County Baseball Club. (McMahon photo).

South Troy chased Ontario starting pitcher Jordan Romano before he had even allowed one hit. Romano plunked Josh Ingham with a pitch to start the third inning and followed that with three straight walks. Braden Cogswell drove in a run on a single and Carson Helms scored on an error prior to Zanotta's home run.

Matt Zanotta greets South Troy head coach Kevin Rogers at third base following his three-run home run Monday morning. (McMahon photo).

South Troy Dodgers designated hitter Matt Zanotta connects on a three-run home run in the third inning of Monday's game against the Ontario Blue Jays. It was his second three-run homer in as many days.



Matt Zanotta greets his teammates at home plate after hitting a crushing three-run home run Monday against the Ontario Blue Jays at Geer Field.

J.P. Sportman slides into home plate on a wild pitch during the third inning of Monday's first game against the Ontario Blue Jays. He finished the game with one hit, two runs scored and three RBI.


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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Year of the homer continues for Zanotta; Dodgers alive in Mack regionals

The South Troy Dodgers used a three-run home run from Matt Zanotta and a complete game performance on the mound from Josh Ingham Sunday evening to defeat the Richmond County Baseball Club, 5-1. South Troy plays host to the Ontario Blue Jays in Monday's championship showdown in the North Atlantic Connie Mack regionals. Ontario needs one win to move on to the World Series. South Troy would have to win at 10 a.m. and again at 1 p.m. to punch a second straight ticket to Farmington, N.M.

Matt Zanotta hit a big three-run home run for the South Troy Dodgers in Sunday evening's victory over the Richmond County Baseball Club.






TROY — The year of the home run continued for Matt Zanotta Sunday night and it couldn’t have happened at a better time for the South Troy Dodgers’ Connie Mack team.

After Will Remillard gave the Dodgers a one-run lead on a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning of an elimination game against the Richmond County Baseball Club, Zanotta poked a three-run home run over the fence in dead center field. Behind Josh Ingham, who pitched a complete game, the Dodgers posted a 5-1 victory at Geer Field and lived to play another day in the 18-and-under Connie Mack North Atlantic Regional.

Monday, South Troy hosts the Ontario Blue Jays at 10 a.m. at Geer Field. Ontario, undefeated in the tournament, can clinch a title and a trip to the Connie Mack World Series in Farmington, N.M. with one victory over the Dodgers. South Troy needs to win two straight games against the Blue Jays to make a return trip to the World Series.

Should the Dodgers win the 10 a.m. game, a second game would be played at 1 p.m.

“Matt’s been slumping for us, but I’ll tell you what, he stepped up today,” said South Troy head coach Kevin Rogers. “He is one of the ones that keeps us in the game. Whether he’s playing bad or good, he’s always in the game, always rooting other guys on. He’s a motivator, that kid, and we love to have him.”

Zanotta, who hit a Section II record 18 home runs for Guilderland High School this spring, admitted that making adjustments to a wood bat and the talent-level of the pitching he sees with the Dodgers was tough, but hard work has helped him get back his swing.

“You always have to be prepared,” said Zanotta. “I knew if I didn’t do it, the kid after me was going to do it. We pass the torch pretty well. When someone ignites the spark, we’re ready to go.”


Ontario handed the Dodgers a 6-0 defeat Sunday afternoon, South Troy’s only loss in the tournament. Dave Roseboom, the University of South Carolina-Upstate bound lefthander, will take the mound for the Dodgers at 10 a.m.

"I had a great year for high school and when I came to the wood and all the better pitching and stuff like that, I struggled a little bit," Zanotta said. "But I’ve worked with all the coaches and got my swing back to where it was during the high school season."

Josh Ingham pitched a complete game, holding the Richmond County Baseball Club without an earned run in a 5-1 victory for the South Troy Dodgers Sunday evening at Geer Field.

South Troy starter Josh Ingham was great on the mound, only let down a bit by his defense in the fifth inning. Ingham threw a five-hitter, striking out two and walking just one in the 89-pitch complete game victory.

Unlike in the Connie Mack qualifier a few weeks ago where he was pressed into duty when the Dodgers' starter coughed up some early runs, Ingham was confident on the mound Sunday because he had a feeling he would be pitching in this elimination situation.

"I had a pretty good idea that it was going to be me or Wendell (Wright) today," Ingham said. "I was pretty focused. I sat up in the air conditioning before the game, kind of realized what I was doing a little bit and mellowed out. I knew it was going to be a big game. We knew we could beat these guys. We’ve beat them before. The last time was kind of a fluke. We were all really spent."

The Dodgers lost to Ontario 6-0 Sunday afternoon, but the Dodgers are confident to get right back at their neighbors to the north.

“They’re definitely beatable,” said Ingham. “We just left a lot of guys on base and didn’t capitalize in certain areas. We have the Boom (Dave Roseboom) going tomorrow, so we’re definitely getting a win out of him. We can piece something together. We have Wendell, too.

"We’re ready to go. We have pitching left and we don’t know what they have," Ingham continued. "It’s going ot be a good game."

Sunday's game against Richmond County certainly was a thrilling game, but it may never go down among the Dodgers' greats. It featured eight errors, an unusual 2-1-5-6 double play, and three Richmond County runners thrown out on the basepaths. The Richmond County coaches weren't too thrilled with some of the calls (the Dodgers also had their complaints) but everyone walked away from the game without incident.

Notes: John Franco, the former All-Star closer for the Cincinnati Reds and the New York Mets, was in attendance at Sunday's game. His son, J.J., plays shortstop for the Richmond County team.

The South Troy Dodgers' 16-and-under Mickey Mantle team is also running into the Ontario Blue Jays in the North Atlantic Regionals in Waterbury, Conn. The Blue Jays defeated the 16u Dodgers Sunday, but South Troy can earn a championship game rematch with a victory over the New Jersey Sharks Monday morning at 10 a.m.

The 17-and-under Dodgers are headed to the AABC World Series in Albuquerque, N.M. The 15-and-under Dodgers and the 14-and-under Dodgers played in their respective regional championship games, but lost. All in all, it's been a very successful summer for the South Troy program.


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Aaaaand the rest of Sunday's local roundup:
North Atlantic 16-and-under Mickey Mantle regionals
South Troy splits: The South Troy Dodgers 16-and-under Mickey Mantle team defeated the Diamondbuddies (Pelham, N.Y.), 21-3, Sunday in the North Atlantic regional in Waterbury, Conn.
Colin Grande went 4-for-4 with four runs scored, Nolan Driscoll went 3-for-4 with two doubles and three runs scored and Matt Sand hit a home run and a double.
Later, the Dodgers dropped an 8-2 decision to the Ontario Blue Jays, their first loss in the tournament.
South Troy plays the New Jersey Sharks today at 10 a.m. The winner of that game plays the Blue Jays in the regional championship at 1 p.m.
New York State Section 3 11-12-year-old All-Stars
East Greenbush-Castleton 7, Rotterdam 1: Jarrett Fortin was 4-for-4 with two doubles and a home run in the victory for East Greenbush.
Brendan Gurain pitched five innings of one-hit ball in relief to earn the victory.
Cody Seeberger and Tucker McKeown each had two hits and Seeberger had a home run for East Greenbush.
East Greenbush plays Saugerties tonight in the Section 3 semifinals at 6 p.m.
The winner will play on Tuesday night in the championship game in Chatham.
District 14 9-and-10-year-old ‘A’ Round Robin
Twin Town 18, Cohoes 0: Zach Price went 2-for-2 with three runs scored and Ryan Gutheil also went 2-for-2 with a double and two runs scored in a victory for Twin Town.
Issiah Piazza and Jakobi Cutler reached base two times apiece for Cohoes.
New York State 8-and-under Cal Ripken tournament
Spring Renegades win three games: The host Spring Renegades won three games in the Cal Ripken Tournament.
Avery Pascucci and Eli Gregware collected two singles apiece to lead the Renegades in an 8-5 victory over Beekmantown.
In a 7-6 victory over the North Colonie Padres, Mike Ragone tripled and drove in four runs and Cody Gunthner and Nick Yash combined on a nifty fielding play to end the game.
In a 6-4 upset victory over the previously unbeaten Clifton Park Mustangs, Gunthner, Marquese Holmes and Jonah Lozada teamed together on the pitching duties and Ronnie Devernoe added a tough catch.

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Boomer Sooners: Renegades win 15u UNYS Mickey Mantle title, headed to Oklahoma for World Series

The Troy Renegades 15-and-under baseball team won the Upper New York State Mickey Mantle title this afternoon, defeating the South Troy Dodgers, 4-0. The Renegades clinched a berth in the AABC World Series, which begins August 3 in Owasso, Oklahoma.

The Troy Renegades 15-and-under baseball team poses for a team picture after winning the Upper New York State Mickey Mantle tournament Sunday at Knickerbacker Park. (Video capture by Will Montgomery - The Record).

TROY — The members of the Troy Renegades 15-and-under baseball team will soon be adding another out-of-state sticker to their suitcases.

Kris Muller laced two triples and Ryan McGrath pitched a complete game two-hitter against the South Troy Dodgers in Sunday’s 4-0 victory in the Upper New York State 15-and-under Mickey Mantle championship game at Knickerbacker Park. With the win, the Renegades clinched a berth in the American Amateur Baseball Congress’ Ken Griffey Jr. World Series, a national tournament for 15-and-under teams to be played in Owasso, Oklahoma beginning August 3.

Ryan McGrath (left) congratulates Greg Ruddy (right) as he scores a run in the seventh inning of Sunday's championship game. (All photos by J.S. Carras - The Record).

Renegades head coach Kevin McGrath asked the team after Saturday evening’s victory over the North Country Athletics who they thought should pitch Sunday morning. Without reservation, Ryan McGrath’s teammates said they wanted him on the mound.

Ryan McGrath throws a pitch during Sunday's championship game against the South Troy Dodgers at Knickerbacker Park.

McGrath allowed two hits, struck out two and walked four on 88 pitches over seven innings and never threw more than 16 pitches in a single inning. He threw first pitch strikes to 16 of the 27 batters he faced and relied on his infield defense, inducing 12 ground ball outs.“I was definitely hoping to pitch against them (the Dodgers),” he said. “It’s always a big game when we play against them.”

South Troy starter Mike Carryk went toe-to-toe with McGrath through the first three innings, but ran into trouble in the fourth. McGrath reached on an infield single – the first hit of the game for either team – and the next batter, Jason Gallacchi, reached base and advanced to second on a throwing error. Muller, a Saratoga Springs native, followed with his first triple of the day, a two-run blast that gave McGrath and the Renegades a bit of breathing room.

“It felt like it was going to come down to the bottom of the seventh,” Muller said. “We thought it was going to be a close game and it was a close game, but we still scored four.”

Muller scored Troy’s third run on a wild pitch and Greg Hotaling’s seventh inning double drove in Greg Ruddy for the Renegades’ fourth tally.


The Renegades were flawless in the field on Sunday, sparked by right fielder Muller’s diving catch in the first inning that robbed South Troy’s Nico Church of a leadoff base hit.

Third baseman Riley Laustrup, a Lansingburgh native who played on the Knickerbacker Park field for the first time Saturday, connects with the baseball during Sunday's championship game.

“If it went by me I knew it was going to be a double,” Muller said. “I looked at my glove and saw it in my glove. There is a bumpy hill out there and I didn’t know if I caught it.”

The last five winners of the 15-and-under Upper New York State title have all come from the Collar City. The Lansingburgh Royals won the tournament in 2009 and 2007. South Troy captured the title in 2008 and 2006.

Traveling around the nation for tournaments is nothing new for the Renegades. They won the 13-and-under AABC tournament in Michigan and finished third in a National Amateur Baseball Federation tournament in Lynchburg, Virginia last summer. A few weeks ago, Troy won the NABF 15-and-under Classic in Nashville, Tennessee.

“It’s really fun to get together and go away,” Ryan McGrath said. “This is our second trip this year and hopefully we’ll have a good tournament again.”

Kris Muller makes a catch in right field as Greg Hotaling looks on during Sunday's championship game.

A few years ago, this group of players joined together in Little League at Spring Youth Baseball. Rather than spread out to the established baseball programs in the area as they grew older, the players chose to stick together. Win by win, that decision is looking better every day.

“It’s another accomplishment for this team,” said Kevin McGrath. “I got together with a group of kids and they wanted to stay together. Anything is possible if you’re willing to put the effort in and it showed.”



Joe Foran, a Fort Ann native, makes a throw at shortstop for the Renegades in Sunday's championship game.

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Notes: A number of people deserve thanks for the hard work they put in to make these summer baseball tournaments possible. Kevin McGrath said he met up with volunteers from Spring Youth Baseball at 6:15 a.m. Sunday to go borrow equipment from Brunswick. With the help of Joe Henkel from the Lansingburgh Royals, they worked on the field for hours prior to the start of the game to make it the most playable surface possible. Many of the parents and coaches sacrifice a great deal of their time (and vacation at work) to be a part of the teams...and that certainly showed this weekend with all the work that needed to go into this tournament with the rain we received. There are a lot of parents and volunteers doing a lot of hard work in concession stands and with field maintenance behind the scenes every summer and Henkel did a very nice thing by making sure they were recognized during Sunday's game.

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Renegades raising funds: Troy Renegades head coach Kevin McGrath admits it is hard asking for money at this point in time, but he is looking for fundraising ideas and/or donations to support his team’s trip to Oklahoma. He may be reached via phone at: 728-7948. Checks made payable to ‘Spring Youth Baseball’ may be sent to McGrath at: 17 Red Rock Road, Troy, NY, 12182.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

North Atlantic Connie Mack Regional: Day three washed out early, picks up late

The South Troy Dodgers received a second straight day off in the North Atlantic Connie Mack regional thanks to noon-hour rainshowers in Troy.

Update (10:45 p.m.): OK, here is the new plan for Sunday.

The Clifton Park Yankees will play the Connecticut Bombers at 9 a.m. at Geer Field. (This is an elimination game)
The South Troy Dodgers will play the Ontario Blue Jays at Noon at Geer Field. (Both teams are undefeated).
The Richmond County Baseball Club drew a bye for this round.

Following the Noon game, four teams will remain and the brackets will be redrawn. Those four teams will play in games at Geer Field at 3 and 6 p.m., with the matchups to be determined.

Action will continue Monday, with the schedule dependent on what happens Sunday evening.

The tournament winner earns a berth in the Connie Mack World Series in Farmington, N.M.

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