Saturday, July 24, 2010

Renegades win Collar City grudge match against 15u Dodgers in UNYS Mantle tourney

It was only fitting that the game featuring the Collar City’s budding summer baseball rivalry had to be played on both sides of town. The Troy Renegades pounced on six wild pitches thrown by the South Troy Dodgers after the game was moved from RPI's Robison Field to Knickerbacker Park in Lansingburgh, posting an 8-1 victory in the Upper New York State 15-and-under Mickey Mantle Tournament.

(Update, 7:25 p.m.): Both the Renegades and the Dodgers won later in the day, setting up a championship rematch Sunday, beginning at 11:30 a.m. at Knickerbacker Park. The Renegades need to win just once to clinch a berth in the 15u Mickey Mantle World Series in Owasso, Okla. The Dodgers, of course, are still alive, but South Troy needs to win two games in a row to earn a spot in the World Series.

The Renegades defeated the North County Athletics, 10-8, later in the day. Joe Foran, Jason Gallacchi and Ian Bennett all doubled and singled for the Renegades. Ryan McGrath tripled.

South Troy eliminated Niskayuna to remain alive in the double-elimination field.

Troy Renegades right fielder Ryan McGrath pokes an RBI single to right field in the sixth inning of Saturday's game against the South Troy Dodgers at Knickerbacker Park. (Photos by J.S. Carras - The Record).

In the 15-and-under Upper New York State Mickey Mantle Tournament, Troy Renegades starting pitcher Greg Hotaling fired the first pitch at 10:20 a.m. on Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Robison Field, but a downpour in the fourth inning forced the Renegades and the South Troy Dodgers into the dugouts.

With the playing conditions much better on the Knickerbacker Park field, the two teams headed to Lansingburgh to complete the game.

Hotaling stranded two runners on base in the top of the fifth and the Renegades pounced on five South Troy wild pitches in the bottom of the frame to take the lead. The Renegades added three more runs in the sixth and Chuck Parslow, backed by a double play started by Riley Laustrup, worked the seventh to preserve an 8-1 victory for Troy.

Action continues Saturday, with more games scheduled to be played Sunday.

The tournament champion earns an automatic berth to the 15-and-under Mickey Mantle World Series in Owasso, Oklahoma, beginning August 3.

Jason Gallacchi (left) congratulates Joe Foran (right) after he scores on Ryan McGrath's single in the sixth inning of Saturday's game at Knickerbacker Park in Lansingburgh.

Although they looked like seasoned professionals for most of Saturday’s game, the Renegades are the new kids on the block in Troy’s summer baseball scene. They won an AABC World Series as 13-year-olds, played in a tournament in Virginia last summer and won the 15-and-under NABF Classic Championship Series in Nashville, Tenn. just last week.

All of their travel experiences aside, every time the Renegades meet up with the Lansingburgh Royals or South Troy Dodgers, it feels like the biggest game of the season.

“I love beating them,” Laustrup said.

“All the kids get really pumped for each game we play against them,” Hotaling said. “It’s a great win.”
Hotaling allowed five hits and struck out five over six innings, earning the win on the mound. He also went 2-for-3 at the plate as the Renegades’ leadoff hitter, scoring three runs and driving in one.

After enduing a one-hour, ten-minute rain delay and a brief trip across town, Hotaling retook the mound and was able to shake off the rust for two more effective innings.

“I was pumped. I wasn’t taking no for an answer,” he said. “I was going to get the ‘W’. I wanted it so bad.”

Jack LeRoux and Dylan Sprague paced the Dodgers with two hits apiece. Dodgers pitchers threw six wild pitches, all of them coming after the game had shifted to Knickerbacker Park.

The Renegades appreciated the postponement of the game Friday evening because a number of the players are still dealing with a lingering brush with poison ivy incurred on their trip to Nashville.

As far as bragging rights go, Saturday’s game was of major importance to the Renegades. Still, the Troy team would most enjoy earning a trip to another national tournament.

“For social matters it’s a lot more important because we can say, ‘aha, we beat you,” Hotaling said. “Down there (Nashville), it’s better competition and a lot bigger stage.”

Although the players focus on the rivalry, that isn’t the case for Renegades head coach Kevin McGrath, who is heavily indebted to the head of the South Troy program, George Rogers.

“They’re an elite baseball team,” McGrath said. “George has a great organization from top to bottom. George has helped me with my group and my kids. There is no rivalry or anything. He enjoys the kids and he guides me on what I’m doing.

“We have a good group of kids and everybody knows that,” McGrath continued. “They’re talented, but the chemistry is second to none the way they root for each other.”

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