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Sports Archives The Altamont Enterprise, April 2, 2009
Ten seniors gone, no doubts for Dutch baseball
By Jordan J. Michael
GUILDERLAND Things might be tough for a team that lost 10 players from the year before. The Dutchmen baseball team can’t relate to that theory.
“I can’t be worried about replacing people that graduated,” said Head Coach Doug LaValley. “It would drive me completely crazy. I have to worry about the guys I have now and focus on what they can do.”
Guilderland’s goal is to get back to Joe Bruno Stadium in Troy where it won a Section II title in 2007. Senior Steve Anderson would like to experience something like that again.
“I have a lot of confidence in this team and the new players,” said Anderson at practice on Monday. “There’s a healthy chemistry and everyone has the same goals. Last year’s team wasn’t very focused, but this season is looking very promising.”
The Dutch finished 2008 with a 14-12 record and a sectional quarterfinal loss to eventual sectional champions LaSalle. Coach LaValley didn’t seem bitter about it.
“It wasn’t an early exit for us last year because LaSalle had an unbelievable team,” LaValley said. “We were better than our record indicated. There were high and low points; it makes you wonder.”
Even though the team lost 10 players, it retained eight, four of those being starters. Anderson, Pat Quinn, Jimmy Quinn, and catcher Jason Sherwood will be playing at a higher level for the Dutchmen.
“I still have some guys that did some big things last year,” said LaValley. “We may have lost some power, but we gained a tremendous amount of athleticism and speed. This may be the most athletic group I’ve seen in my eight years here.”
Guilderland may have to play smaller ball this year with the loss of power in the bats. Anderson and Matt Zanotta are the only real home-run threats in the lineup. “We’ll have to hit-and-run, steal bases, and bunt effectively,” LaValley added.
LaValley told The Enterprise that he is pleased with the outlook of the team after winning its first two scrimmages over Suburban Council opponents Bethlehem and Colonie. “Those are two very strong teams and we lost to them a total of six times last year,” he said. “Beating them is a good sign.”
The new nine
Nine new members join the Dutch from the junior-varsity team. The seven juniors and two sophomores got a feel for varsity through the scrimmages last week.
“We stress pitching and defense and prepare them as best we can,” said LaValley. “The Dutchmen game plan is the same from modified to varsity. The players have to worry about adjusting to the increased speed and talent level.”
Zanotta is back after hitting a home run for the team in sectionals; he was called up to play the post-season. Sean Geisel at second base, Mike Drislane, and Luke Stark, pitching, will step into big rolls.
The Quinn brothers will bat one and two for Guilderland and Anderson, Zanotta, and Sherwood will be the heart of the order. Kyle LaValley, Geisel, and Drislane will round out the offense.
“The Quinn brothers set the table for the big guys and create havoc on the base path,” Coach LaValley said. “We’ll win games if we get a lot of hits because this team can run with the best.”
The pitching rotation is led by Kyle LaValley and Jeremy Affinito. LaValley was 4-0 last year and Affinito is coming back from a sore arm. Stark, Lozano, and Ethan Slupski will be the other starters for the Dutch and Vinny Tamburello has been lights out so far.
“We have about 10 guys that can pitch,” said Coach LaValley. “It’s nice to be that deep with pitching. I could go as deep as 12 if I had to.”
LaValley told The Enterprise that the one goal is to get to Joe Bruno Stadium for the sectional semi-finals. “Anything less than that is a disappointment for my seniors and they’ve said so themselves,” he said. “They want their careers at Guilderland to mean something special.”
“I feel the team starting to gel and get back into that winning attitude of two years ago,” Anderson said. “We don’t need power, we just need to play good ball. The excitement is building.”