For Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake baseball coach Paul DeLuca, familiarity with the upset-minded Scotia-Glenville Tartans breeds caution.
Sure, the second-seeded Spartans crushed the ninth-seeded Tartans recently in a non-league baseball game, but the stakes are much higher and the surging Tartans appear to be playing at a much higher level when the teams square off for the Section II Class A title tonight at 7 at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.
“We played them [the Tartans] just a couple of weeks ago at Joe Bruno Stadium. It was a blowout, and we won, but it was just one of those games,” said DeLuca, whose 14-10 Spartans are coming off sectional victories over Catholic Central and Averill Park.
“They are playing better now than they were, and that game doesn’t mean anything at this point. We’ve got to look at them like they’re a different team. There will be different pitching matchups, and they are swinging the bat better than they were back then,” DeLuca said.
DeLuca said he has confidence in either one of his ace pitchers.
“Corey Parks was the kid who pitched Saturday for me, and he’s probably my No. 1 guy,” DeLuca said. “He had issues earlier in the season with his shoulder. Unfortunately, we also had a couple of defensive breakdowns in two of the games he pitched in. He was a hard-luck loser in those games. He pitched very well for us the other night, though, and I think he threw it better than he has all year for us.”
If Parks doesn’t start, senior Devin Stark will.
“Devin took up the slack when Corey wasn’t throwing well earlier in the year,” said DeLuca. “Devin was 3-2 and kept us in it. All of his starts were quality starts. He did a heckuva job for us.
“I feel like I’ve got two guys who are 1 and 1A for us. I can piggy-back those two guys. Devin has a little more resilient arm. Corey takes a little longer to recover, but he throws harder. It’s nice to have to guys like that on the mound.”
The Spartans also have plenty of strong hitters, including a pair of players headed for Division I programs next season.
“Brett Dennis, who is going to St. John’s, and Keaton Flint, who is going to Sacred Heart, are the two guys we build around,” said DeLuca. “They are both excellent hitters, but we also have a guy like Rob Knightes at the top of the lineup. He’s having a real good year with the bat, is an excellent defensive player and runs well.”
DeLuca also expects strong games from junior Jayson Sullivan, who belted a three-run homer in the last game, senior left fielder Mike Brienza and catcher Dave Russell.
“We’ve played two great games at Joe Bruno Stadium already, scoring 18 and 15 runs in those two games,” DeLuca said. “There is no way I can expect that again, but there is a good hitter’s background there.
“I’ve told my players that [Scotia] is No. 9 and we’re No. 2. Everybody expects us to win, and they have nothing to lose. We must purge our last game with them out of our memory.”
Scotia-Glenville, only 9-11 before the sectionals began, is now 12-11 and on quite a roll.
“I guess everything is working for us, right now,” said coach John Striffler. “We’ve had depth from our pitching staff all along. Our kids’ performance is the key. Regardless of what we do as coaches, it all comes down to the execution of our players. Some kids have been performing up to expectations, and some haven’t, but most of them are.”
Striffler is extremely confident in his deep pitching staff that includes sophomore Mitch Forshey, Andrew Wildrick, Andy Stewart and Dan Saccocio, as well as Joe Morcello.
“Mitch has stepped up for us. He has quite a presence about him. He was very confident in our game with Queensbury,” Striffler said. “But Wildrick has a rubber arm. That kid can throw almost every day for us.
“The key for our pitching staff is that they throw strikes. You can have a kid who is an excellent pitcher, but if he walks a lot of people, it takes you right out of the game. Kids are imperfect to begin with, and sometimes they have to find the zone of an umpire. It’s tough for the kids to make the right adjustment sometimes.”
Although Scotia-Glenville is basically a contact-hitting team, the Tartans did belt a few home runs when they played at cozy Collins Park.
“We’re basically a line-drive hitting team. We try to put the ball in play and make the other team make a good defensive play,” Striffler said.
“A good example of the kind of hustle we have is Nick Zeglen against Glens Falls. He had three hits that game, and two of them were infield hits that he simply ran out. If you put the ball in play in the right spot, you have a chance.”
Marcello hit over .500 in league play, while Saccocio, who also plays first base and outfield, is hitting .400.
“We try to preach line drives to left- or right-center. We don’t want players to turn it over. We want them to hit it where it’s pitched.”
Categories: High School Sports