Friday, May 27, 2016

High School Baseball: Class A/AA championships, 5/26/16

I've said this before, and it bears repeating. When it comes to high school sports, baseball and softball take a backseat to football & basketball in terms of fan attendance. Part of the reason for this is the fact that most games begin around 4 pm or so, when most parents are still at work.

This was evident on Thursday for the first half of the Championship Week doubleheader at Joe Bruno Stadium. It was supposed to be the climax of three days of doubleheaders, but a rainout on Tuesday scotched those plans, bumping the Class B & BB games to Wednesday, and Class C & D were moved from Wednesday to Saturday. In effect, the lowest classes could stand a little extra support, especially with their teams on the area's biggest baseball stage.

The Class A title game pitted defending champion Queensbury against Scotia-Glenville. The Spartans jumped on Scotia starter Liam Rooney for 3 runs in the first, and Rooney's wildness was his ultimate undoing, as he was removed after 1 2/3 innings, suffering the loss. Queensbury's Aaron Cook was brilliant in contrast, limiting Scotia to just 2 hits while striking out 8 in 6 innings. In the 7th, Cook swapped places with shortstop Brett Rodriguez, who gave up a hit and a walk before getting Mike Borbee to pop out to second baseman Justin Troelstra to end the game, as the Spartans repeated, 6-0. Rodriguez, a kick returner and running back in football, was tackled by catcher Matt (Baked) Zita as the Spartans dogpiled on them in celebration.

But it was the Class AA game that everyone came out to see. The host Tri-City Valleycats decided to test their video board for the season, and, in front of the largest crowd to see a high school game in Section II this season, Shenendehowa ace Ian Anderson didn't disappoint.

Shen, which dropped the 2015 AA title game to Saratoga, sought redemption. Christian Brothers Academy, which beat Shen last month in Clifton Park, sought to spoil the party, and sent Elliott Raimo back out to the mound, five days after a complete game win vs. Guilderland. Raimo & Anderson matched zeroes for the first two innings, and it looked as thought we might be going to extra innings.

In the top of the 3rd, Anderson drilled Raimo in the knee with a fastball, the first of two hit batsmen on the night. Raimo shook it off and stayed in the game, but that might've been a costly decision, as in the home 3rd, Shen struck for 2 runs off Raimo, which was all Anderson would need. With big league scouts looking on, Anderson pitched a complete game, scattering 7 hits while striking out 5. Shen added an insurance run in the 6th to ice it, and claimed the AA title with a 3-0 win. Raimo struck out 7 for the 2nd straight start in the loss.

I still believe that both Raimo & Anderson will go in the MLB 1st Year Entry Draft in 2 weeks. Local fans would like to see Houston take one or both, praying they would be assigned to the Valleycats, whose season starts 8 days after the draft.

Shen will return to The Joe for a state quarterfinal game on June 4, and Anderson will likely be right back on the mound.
Softball takes center stage today, with title games at Luther Forest Park in Malta. Troy High will play Burnt Hills in the title game. The Flying Horses lost coach George Rafferty for the postseason after he had an incident with an umpire 2 weeks ago vs. Averill Park, but while it was reported in the Albany Times-Union 4 days after the incident, The Record didn't report it until mentioning it in passing in a game report after Troy upset top-seeded South Glens Falls on Tuesday. The hometown paper, hamstrung by financial and manpower limitations, has missed a fair number of stories in local sports in recent years, and it'll remain to be the case until a local concern steps up to the plate to buy the paper from its out-of-state parent, Digital First Media. It's not doing the paper any favors for its readers in print or online if they continue to miss out on stories of interest. As the late Walter Cronkite might put it, that's the way it is.

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