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Sports Archives The Altamont Enterprise, April 1, 2010
Blackbirds’ baseball team loves to make the dust fly
By Jordan J. Michael
VOORHEESVILLE The Blackbirds’ baseball team doesn’t care how cold it is outside. The players would rather bundle up than spend another day inside.
At Friday’s practice, Head Coach Kyle Turski said that the cold couldn’t be any less of an issue. The bright sunshine was acting as a heater while Voorheesville fielded balls off the bat of Assistant Coach Jon Glisson.
“Practicing in the gym doesn’t do much for us,” said Turski. “This is our fourth day outside and we’re lucky because there used to be a lot of snow out here.”
The Blackbirds finished 12-12 in 2009 to make the playoffs, but Maple Hill pitcher Jaime Schultz threw a no-hitter to thwart any chance of a post-season run.
Junior Ryan Duncan, entering his fourth season with Voorheesville, had a recent memory of Lake George pitching a no-hitter against the Blackbirds in a playoff game. Both Schultz and the pitcher from Lake George are currently pitching for Division I college baseball teams.
“Those two guys were throwing like 92 miles per hour, so we pretty much had no chance,” Duncan said. “I know getting no hit makes you look pretty bad, but it also makes you strive to be better.”
The Blackbirds will run into the Wildcats again on April 10 when it plays in the Maple Hill Tournament, and junior Jake Nussbaum can’t wait for the rematch. “I don’t know what their team looks like this year,” he said. “But I hope we destroy them.”
“Getting no hit will lead to plenty of motivating factors for our team,” said Turski. “The kids know that there are things to improve on.”
Turski would like to see the team get more aggressive on the base paths this season. “We have a lot of speed,” he said. “Hopefully, we can use that speed intelligently.”
“I don’t think anyone on this team runs slow,” Nussbaum said. “Speed is probably our biggest advantage.”
“Mixed bag of pitchers”
Voorheesville is turning to Duncan to fill the void that Landon Church left open on the pitching mound. Duncan had three big wins towards the end of last season to help the team make sectionals. “I’m confident that he can be our go-to guy,” said Turski. “He’s been with us a long time.”
The three other starting pitchers, according to Turski, will be senior Josh Meilak, and sophomores Kevin Connolly and Anthony Scaccia. The rotation looks young, but Turski said that it has some “hidden experience.”
“I think we have a nice mixed bag of pitchers,” Turski said. “Duncan has already proved himself and Scaccia is a new left-hander that we’re excited about. Connolly throws hard and Meilak can hit the corners and throw in some off-speed stuff.”
The Blackbirds know that pitching can make or break a team. “Those guys on the mound control the game,” said Turski. “I think our pitchers have a good idea of what to do out there.”
Turski would rather have his team win a low-scoring affair then win an offensive shootout. “We live and die with pitching and defense,” he said. “It’s the key to winning in my mind. The offense will take care of itself.”
“Make dust fly”
The strongest defensive positions for Voorheesville are up the middle infield with Nussbaum and freshman Neko Church, and in the outfield with senior Elliot Stryker and juniors Colin McVee and Rob Davies.
Glisson made the outfielders give chase to plenty of balls on Friday and they made some timely plays. “Those guys in the outfield can cover a lot of ground and throw bombs,” said Nussbaum.
“Nussbaum and I try to make plays as quick as possible,” said Church, who ended up starting at shortstop last year after being called up to varsity as an eighth-grader. “We’re looking forward to a bunch of double plays.”
Sophomore Mike Chiseri, one of the Blackbirds’ top performers as the catcher, has a freak injury to his shoulder that might keep him out of the lineup for opening day. Chiseri was swinging a bat the day before tryouts and he heard a strange popping noise. He was diagnosed with a stress fracture to the scapula.
“My doctor said that my specific injury has only been documented three times in medical literature,” Chiseri said. “He hadn’t seen anything like it in 25 years. It’s really weird and really bad timing.”
Fellow sophomore JD Springer will be filling in for Chiseri at catcher until he’s ready to come back. “He knows the game well and he’s quick,” said Chiseri of Springer. “I should be back out there soon.”
Friday’s practice ended with some spats of laughter. The team doesn’t seem to be feeling any pressure.
“It’s like a big group of friends that all love to play baseball,” said Stryker. “We crack jokes and make dust fly.”