Friday, May 8, 2015

High school baseball @ Joe Bruno Stadium---you had to be there

Tonight was the last of three doubleheaders in the Coaches Against Cancer Friday Night Lights Series. Yeah, try saying that three times fast. Anyway, It was mostly a Suburban Council showcase. In the opener, Bethlehem defeated Mohanasen, 7-5. That game was wrapping up when I arrived and bought my game ticket and program.

The three week event was sponsored by the Tri-City Valleycats, who've done a lot of off-season work for the area, including renovating various Little League fields. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the 'Cats were sponsoring the event, the local press downplayed all three weeks. 11 days ago, a letter I'd written to the Troy Record was published. I was playing the role of an unofficial promoter, urging fans to support their communities and/or schools by attending the games. Little did I know when I wrote the letter that the closest thing to a sellout came a week ago, when Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) shut out LaSalle in what amounted to a home game for the Cadets, whose campus is right across the road from Bruno Stadium.

The nightcap, pitting Shenendehowa vs. Troy High, was delayed 25 minutes from its scheduled 7:05 start. Apparently, there were some issues with the honored guests scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitches or some other problem. The scoreboard took an unscheduled "siesta", if you will, before the game, and finally lit up during the top of the first.

After the two teams played evenly through two innings, the Plainsmen broke through against Troy pitcher David Judge in the third, tagging him for four runs. At least two of them were unearned as the result of a Troy error. Shen would add two more runs in the fifth, and despite Troy's leaky defense committing five errors total, the Plainsmen were shut down after the fifth. Not that Shen was altogether brilliant on defense, as they committed two errors, one of which led to Troy's lone run in the seventh.

Oh, Troy could've had one sooner, but for some confusion between the umpires. With two out and a runner on third in the fourth inning, Shen pitcher Ben Anderson picked the runner off for the third out. Or did he? The base umpire made the call, but seconds later, the plate umpire called a balk on Anderson. At the urging of Shen coach Greg Christodulu, the arbiters conferred---their second such conference of the game---and the original out call stood. Considering that the umps got confused on an attempted Troy double play earlier, one in which a Shen batter appeared to have beaten the throw to first, but was called out, a call that went in favor of Troy, it sort of evened out.

Troy & Shen had previously scrimmaged for eight innings at Shen in late March, and that was more of a barometer of how the regular season would go for both schools. Shen won handily that day, 15-4. Unsurprisingly, they sit atop the Suburban Council. Troy, playing as an independent, would be happy to be at or above .500 with three games remaining in the regular season. Judge, who went the full seven innings, as did Anderson, lost control of the strike zone in the second, and never really recovered, as he was wild much of the night. Anderson checked Troy on three hits until the seventh, when the Flying Horses plated their lone run on two hits and a Shen error.

As I noted before, the local press has all but ignored the Coaches Against Cancer series. Time Warner Cable had their cameras at Bruno Stadium last week only. The attendance tonight closely resembled what I'd seen on TV two years ago, when Troy beat CBA. Not good. As has been noted, it's up to the schools to provide game information to the media. Where it goes from there? Seemingly, the twilight zone, since it appears that local press is more interested in lacrosse, a sport growing in popularity here due to the success that the University at Albany has enjoyed in recent years, than baseball or softball. Go figure. It's almost as if the editors are giving the baseball & softball teams the Rodney Dangerfield treatment. No respect.

As has been noted, the local papers are more concerned with attracting eyeballs to their websites. Problem is, the high school baseball and/or softball scores aren't always on the web, either, and that ain't going to get the job done.

It's not just the newspaper sites. Troy's website, for example, hasn't updated their baseball schedule with scores since the middle of April, and their softball page hasn't been updated since last season. What's up with that? How are the fans supposed to keep up? Telepathy? Please.

Both sides (schools & press) need to get with the program, and quickly.

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