Tonight marked the start of the 2016 Coaches vs. Cancer baseball series in Section II. The theme of today's doubleheader might as well be diversity. As in, diversity in the style of play between the two games, and diversity in attendance, which was as different as night and day.
Take the opener, for example. I would estimate about 50-60 people----and, mind you, that's being generous---took in the 1st ever regular season meeting between Colonie and Troy High. Coach Will Whitty's Flying Horses have stumbled out of the gate, losing five of their first six and four in a row during this stretch. They were no-hit in their last game, a 4-0 loss to Columbia on Wednesday, the 3rd shutout loss of the 4 in the current streak.
It seemed as though Troy had remedied the problem when they jumped on Colonie starter Kyle Lambert for 5 runs in the 2nd inning. Lambert's defense betrayed him as well, committing 2 errors to prolong the frame.
However, Troy starter David Judge was having control issues, and let the Garnet Raiders back into the game, as Colonie scored twice in the 3rd and once in the 4th to get within 5-3. It seemed as though the prosperity of having runs to work with isn't the problem with Judge. It's a lack of focus on the mound. The sophomore often had problems following through on pitches, which would drift out of the strike zone. After plating two insurance runs in the 6th, Coach Whitty, rather than go to his bullpen, let Judge try to finish it out. Colonie got the two runs back, but Antony Mantova, who had been 3-for-3 entering his last at-bat, grounded out to end the game, as Troy snapped its 4 game losing streak with a 7-5 verdict. Judge had to battle to earn the win, but for the entire team, it's a monkey off their backs.
Kyle Lambert went 5 innings in the loss. Brett White relieved in the 6th and gave up 2 runs while striking out 2. Judge & Nick Pastore had 3 hits apiece to lead Troy.
Take the estimated attendance in that first game, multiply it by 5, and you'd have a rough figure on the crowd for the nightcap.
By reputation, Christian Brothers Academy's fans travel well, and it seems Shaker's do, too. The bleachers were awash in Shaker blue and CBA purple. CBA, in fact, had t-shirts printed to promote the game. You'd think the other teams would follow suit? Shaker was tops among the 12 participating teams in terms of overall fund-raising for the American Cancer Society. Troy? Colonie? They're probably contemplating at least putting an ad in the paper for someone to start the promotions department to aid the athletic department in coordinating publicity for events like this. Yeah, it's that bad.
Digression aside, CBA & Shaker were engaged in a pitchers duel for six innings, as Shaker's Ryan Lozano matched zeroes with CBA's William Van Beusekom. Lozano struck out 8 in six innings, but was lifted in the bottom of the 7th when Van Beusekom, who'd moved from the mound to right field in the top of the inning, lined a double to left. That finished Lozano in favor of Dino Ferrarese, who was left off the roster printed in the program, due to an oversight on Shaker's part. Van Beusekom was himself lifted for a pinch runner, Daniel Skiba. One out later, Skiba raced home on a base hit by Davis Payne with the only run of the game. CBA remains unbeaten after a 1-0 victory. Andrew DiNovo, who relieved Van Beusekom to start the 7th, was the winning pitcher. Van Beusekom, for his part, fanned 7 in six innings.
Next week, the series continues, as LaSalle hosts Pittsfield in the opener, with Columbia taking on Voorheesville in the nightcap. The series concludes on May 6, as Taconic meets Averill Park, and another Suburban Council matchup wraps up the series, as Shenendehowa faces Ballston Spa.