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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 1, 2010

Dutchmen baseball team eager to compete for a title

By Jordan J. Michael

GUILDERLAND –– A model is roaming around the Dutchmen baseball team’s locker room. Its name is 2007.

Ever since Guilderland won a Class AA title in 2007, Head Coach Doug LaValley has been searching for a similar product. The team is ready to give it another chance in 2010 after going through some struggles over the last two years.

“The 2007 team will always be our model until we win another one,” LaValley said at practice on Tuesday. “That team had it all and they were always on a mission. Great players and even greater teammates.”

LaValley told The Enterprise that team unity is the main ingredient for a championship run. “Everyone needs to be pulling the same side of the rope,” he said. “We’ve had a few guys pulling on the other side of the rope recently.”

The Dutch will receive a fresh new rope this season and the team is ready to pull as hard as it can.

“We have a ways to go, but these guys will give me everything they have,” LaValley said. “It’s all there for the taking.”

A trip to Millville, N.J. every pre-season helps feed Guilderland’s need for unity. The team has been going to Millville since 2002 after LaValley got the hook-up from Roy Hallenback, a friend who graduated from Columbia High School.

The Dutchmen went 3-1 in four scrimmages in Millville last weekend. Senior Matt Zanotta said the team didn’t even get to play any games last year. “We drove all the way down there only to drive back because it wouldn’t stop raining,” he said.

Rain nodded its ugly head again on Tuesday, forcing practice inside. Guilderland’s East Gym was split in two by a wall, with pitching on one side and hitting on the other. Hitters can’t hit live balls and pitchers don’t get to throw off real dirt mounds.

“Once you’ve been outside (eight times), it’s really hard to come back in,” said LaValley. “We can’t do the things that we would like to, but we accomplish small things. We talk a lot of strategy when we’re indoors.”

“Up in the air”

Guilderland looks to have plenty of options for starting pitching this season. The team won’t have a dominant arm that rises above the rest. This could be an advantage because opponents won’t know what to expect.

“Pitching is up in the air right now,” LaValley said. “I’m looking for a diamond in the rough. There isn’t much drop-off in talent from one guy to the next.”

Throwing on the mound for the Dutchmen will be seniors Luke Stark, Eddy Pierce, Zack Caplan, Matt Zanotta, and juniors Vinny Tamburello, Brett Mcneil, and Chris Gareau.

“We will go as far as our pitchers take us,” said LaValley. “I’m looking for match-ups with each pitcher. What makes us better defensively when a certain guy is out there on the mound?”

LaValley has a good feeling about his middle infield, played by seniors Jimmy Quinn and Sean Geisel. It’s the second year for the two as a starting pair, and Geisel led the team in hitting last year with an average of .390.

“I don’t think that there’s a better combo out there than those two,” LaValley said.

“Coach seems to have a lot of faith in us because we work real hard,” said Quinn. “Geisel and I just have good chemistry out there.”

“The verbal communication on a double play is natural instinct for us,” said Geisel, who turned five double plays with Quinn in Millville. “We give each other good feeds.”

Guilderland won’t have a ton of bat power this season, but LaValley will be expecting timely hitting from Geisel, Quinn, Zanotta, Harry Brodsky, Stark, Jeremy Tobin, and Tyler Hynes. Mike Drislane, Stark, and Brodsky should cover considerable ground in the outfield.

“Speed is the least of my concerns,” said LaValley. “This team always has players that can run.”

The Dutchmen play in the Suburban Council, one of the toughest leagues from top to bottom in Section II. “All these schools keep running it down,” said LaValley, referring to Shenendehowa, Colonie, Columbia, Shaker, Saratoga, and Burnt Hills.

“The easy part is playing the game,” LaValley continued. “Hard work comes from preparation. We try to cover anything and everything that could ever happen before it actually happens.”

Kyle LaValley, Coach LaValley’s son, has moved on to play baseball at The College of Saint Rose after being coached by his father for two years.

“It’s a whole lot easier to coach without my son around,” LaValley said with a grin, clearly joking. “I might have lost my biological son, but I have 19 more that are still around.”

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