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Sports Archives The Altamont Enterprise, April 22, 2010
Dutch baseball gets bad wind, ends up with winning score
By Jordan J. Michael
GUILDERLAND A cold and heavy wind blew across the baseball field in Guilderland for the entire game on Friday.
The score between the Dutchmen and the Scotties of Ballston Spa also blew back and forth like the wind.
Guilderland and Ballston Spa swapped leads four different times. The Dutch grabbed a 6-to-5 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning and went on to win, 8 to 7, to halt a three- game winless streak.
“This was a big win and we really needed it,” said Assistant Coach Chris Yager after the game. The Dutchmen opened the season with wins against Mohonasen and Colonie, but then dropped contests to Massapequa, Columbia, and Saratoga.
Senior Matt Zanotta, who leads the Suburban Council with seven home runs and 25 runs batted in, made his pitching debut for Guilderland on Friday and closed out the win. Zanotta replaced starter Chris Gareau in the sixth inning after Gareau couldn’t manage to get an out.
“He wants to help the team as much as possible,” Yager said of Zanotta. “We felt comfortable enough to give him a shot on the mound. He’s been getting it done with the bat and he just helped us out again in another way.”
The Dutch had an 8-to-5 lead heading into the top of the sixth inning, but Gareau walked Kevin Hollowood, and Brendan Shannon raced down the first-base line to beat out a ground ball. Hollowood scored a run after Nick Mastrianni airmailed a throw to third base.
With the score now 8 to 6 with no outs and Shannon on third, Zanotta came in and got Brian Guilder to line out to Jimmy Quinn at short stop. Zanotta got Dalton Wheeler to ground out, but Shannon scored to make it 8 to 7.
Zanotta told The Enterprise that he wasn’t nervous to pitch, even though there were runners on base. “You have to want the ball,” he said. “I’m just thankful for all those fielders behind me that made plays.”
Cooper McGowan made quick work of Guilderland in the bottom of the sixth and Zanotta went back out for the save with the wind howling. Zanotta got the three Ballston Spa batters out with two pop-ups and one grounder, but one pop-up didn’t end without some suspense.
McGowan skied a pop fly in the infield and the wind took over from there. Mastrianni made a last-second decision and caught the foul ball two feet from the Scotties’ bench for the second out.
“The wind was totally crazy today,” said Mastrianni, who plays first base. “I thought the ball was headed towards second base, but the wind just took it. I saw the runner coming and Zanotta yelled for me to get it.”
“Mastrianni was like Willie Mays on that one,” said Zanotta. “We had to deal with Hurricane Helderberg all day, but so did the other team.”
Hollowood surprised Guilderland in the first inning by leading off with a bunt single. Guilder drove Hollowood in with a single that dropped behind first base.
Zanotta hit a base-clearing double in the bottom of the first that gave the Dutchmen a 2- to-1 lead. “We follow our coaches’ orders and it comes out in our numbers,” he said.
The Scotties had the bases loaded in the third inning with one out. Gareau got Ryan McVaigh to strikeout, but he threw a wild pitch to the next batter, resulting in two runs. Guilderland had a chance to get the second runner, but the throw was off the mark and no one was there to cover.
Ballston Spa had a 4-to-2 lead, but the same scenario played out against the team in the bottom of the fifth inning. This time, the Dutch had the bases loaded and McGowan threw a wild pitch that produced two runs.
“We had a mental breakdown and then they did later,” Yager said. “We hustled on the bases and never gave up.”
The Dutchmen won Friday’s game without Head Coach Doug LaValley in attendance. Yager has been LaValley’s assistant for years.
“He’s been my mentor,” Yager said of LaValley. “We don’t want to win without him.”