Spartans hit first, hit hardest on road to state Class A title

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake scored first and scored often last week in each of its four state tourname

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake scored first and scored often last week in each of its four state tournament baseball games.

Dan Buff set the offensive tone when he drilled a grand slam in the first inning of the Spartans’ regional semifinal game with Whitesboro, and they went on to score 30 more runs in winning the New York Class A championship.

“You see Division I athletes in the Suburban Council,” said Burnt Hills senior Keaton Flint. “We saw [Shaker’s Jeff] Hoffman and [Colonie’s Matt] Snyder and some other guys like that who can really throw. When we got to the states, everything looked straight.”

Burnt Hills beat Whitesboro,

12-0, before topping Franklin Academy, 7-1, in the regionals at Bleecker Stadium. A 7-1 state semifinal win over Saugerties last Saturday was followed by an 8-2 triumph over Pittsford Sutherland Sunday at NYSEG Stadium in Binghamton.

“We were aggressive, and we took our hacks,” said Burnt Hills coach Paul DeLuca.

Burnt Hills banged out 13 hits in its last game, with Flint going 3-for-4 with two doubles, three RBI and three runs scored. Jeff Heck also had three hits, and Bret Dennis, Jayson Sullivan and Mike Brienza added two apiece.

“I was really expecting to see some big studs. The guys we saw, we were all over,” said DeLuca. “We saw better pitching all year.”

The Spartans continued a playoff trend by scoring three first-inning runs against Pittsford Sutherland, and kept another trend going by adding on. Flint delivered a two-run double in the first, and Brienza’s two-run double in the fifth stretched the Spartans’ advantage to 6-0.

“That was a key part of our run, scoring first,” said DeLuca, whose team took quick 1-0 leads against Franklin Academy and Saugerties. “It takes pressure off your pitcher.”

Corey Parks went the distance against Whitesboro and Saugerties, Devin Stark went all the way against Franklin Academy and Pittsford Sutherland, and the Spartans made just one error behind the seniors in the four state tourney games.

“Everything clicked. All facets of the game were good,” said DeLuca. “The whole school is full of championships at the sectional and state level. I’m glad we were able to join the party.”

Burnt Hills had to rally from a 3-1 hole to beat Scotia-Glenville in the Section II title game, 4-3. Sullivan hit an RBI triple and scored on Heck’s single in the seventh inning to tie it, and Buff singled Flint home in the ninth for the winning run.

“We had our backs to the wall against Scotia, and we didn’t panic,” said DeLuca. “We tied it in the bottom of the seventh and went on from there. From that point on, I we didn’t have a tough game, score-wise.”

By the numbers

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake was the 11th Suburban Council baseball team to reach a state final four, but only the second to win a champ-ionship following Columbia (Class AA) in 2004.

Burnt Hills in 1998 (Class A) and five others finished second in the state, including Guilderland (Class AA) last year and Colonie (Class AA) in 2006.

Record-setter gets nod

Senior Tim Cox, who set a Schen-ectady single-season record with 75 goals, is the third Patriot to earn US Lacrosse All-American status.

Cox scored three goals or more 14 times, including eight against Amsterdam and seven against LaSalle. The University at Albany-bound midfielder was selected the Big 10 Player of the Year before his All-American selection, and joins Aaron Lupo (2008) and Pat Meade (2002) as Schenectady players who have received the prestigious honor.

Dan Flora scored 64 goals in 2009 for Schenectady, an all-time high before this season. Sam Hartz also passed that total this season with 74 goals, including eight against Troy and seven against Columbia.

Shenendehowa goaltender Bobby Wardwell was selected a US Lacrosse All-American for the second time. Shenendehowa attackman Tim Coll, Niskayuna defenseman Nick Schuler and Ballston Spa midfielder Troy Gargiulo were also named All-Americans.

Section II’s Academic All-Amer-icans are Zach Baron of Christian Brothers Academy and Andrew Fenaroli of Niskayuna.

Top coach

Chuck Holohan of Shenendehowa has been named the Section II Coach of the Year for boys’ lacrosse after guiding the Plainsmen to 19 wins and a spot in the state Class A semifinals.

Shenendehowa’s Jason Gifford was selected Section II’s Assistant Coach of the Year.

Shenendehowa (19-2) won 17 straight games, with the streak including a 9-4 victory over Niskayuna in the Section II title game and an 8-5 triumph over Mahopac in the state quarterfinals. Farmingdale defeated Shenendehowa in the state semifinals, 14-10, and went on to claim the state championship.

Shenendehowa’s only other loss came against Yorktown, 8-7.

The Plainsmen, who captured the Suburban Council North Division title, finished with a No. 6 ranking by the New York State Sportswriters Association. Niskayuna (15-4) is ranked No. 15.

Former pats in action

A team consisting of former Schenectady High School standouts including James Thomas and Rashaun Freeman will compete in the new Capital District Basketball Association this summer.

The seven-team, NCAA-sanctioned league will hold games Monday and Thursday nights starting at 6:30, 7:45 and 9 at Rensselaer High School.

The Schenectady team will be captained by Pat O’Connor, who started alongside Thomas on the school’s 1998 state championship team, and also feature Brian Ledbetter, Malcolm Williams and

Durett Miles, among others.

The league’s cast will have numerous other players who made their names at Section II high schools before moving on to the college and pro levels like Zach Bye (Scotia-Glenville), Steve Dagostino (Guilderland), E.J. Gallup (Gloversville) and Evan Lane (Sharon Springs).

The league begins Thursday and will have playoffs leading up to a championship game. More information can be found at

Categories: High School Sports

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