Baseball: Suburban Council is going to get a little grittier

Suburban Council baseball is going to be bigger this season, and grittier, too.
Senior infielder Mike Gibson will be back in the Schenectady lineup this year as the Patriots embark on a Suburban Council schedule.
Senior infielder Mike Gibson will be back in the Schenectady lineup this year as the Patriots embark on a Suburban Council schedule.

Suburban Council baseball is going to be bigger this season, and grittier, too.

“With us, CBA, Schenectady and Troy, there are rivalries we’ve built up over the years playing in the Big 10,” Albany coach Garett Baron said at Wednesday night’s team and media get-together at Shaker High School. “We come from schools that are used to scrapping and clawing and doing whatever we can to get a win. It’s that Big 10 mentality we’re bringing in.”

The four schools have expanded the Suburban Council team total to 16. They played as independents last season, after the Big 10 disbanded following the 2013-14 school year.

“We played Troy, CBA and Albany last year, and all of them were hard-fought games. We all bring grit,” Schenec­tady senior Franco Stec said. “Coming from the Big 10, some teams might think they have an easy one when they play us. They might overlook us. This is our opportunity to prove them wrong.”

CBA won 15 games last season, Troy prevailed 11 times, Schenectady notched 10 vic­tories and Albany finished with nine. Each team made the Section II tournament, and Troy ended up playing for the Class A title, only to lose to Queensbury.

“Those teams, we’ve played for many years in non-league games, and they we’re always good contests,” Bethlehem coach Matt Rehbit said of the SC newcomers. “I think it’s a good fit. It makes our league stronger. They have a lot of good coaches, and a lot of good kids.”

The kids from Schenectady were seeded No. 7 in the Class AA sectionals last year and nearly pulled off an upset of No. 2 Guilderland in the quarterfinals.

“It was 1-0, but up until the last pitch, we battled. We had the bases loaded,” Stec said. “That’s the way we want to play.”

That’s something Schen­ectady coach John Isabella has always impressed upon his Patriots.

“You’ve got to be ready to get punched in the nose and get right back up,” Isabella said. “We have to battle all seven innings. I’m hoping to do that in the Suburban.”

Schenectady, CBA, Troy and Albany are coupled in the league’s Grey Division with Averill Park, Ballston Spa, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake and Mohonasen. Bethlehem, Colonie, Columbia, Guilderland, Niskayuna, Saratoga Springs, Shaker and Shenendehowa form the league’s Blue Division.

“Being in this league is a great opporunity for the kids,” Troy coach Will Whitty said. “There’s a lot of attention to the league from the colleges and pros. I’ve been hungry to get in it.”

Shenendehowa games that feature professional pitching prospect Ian Anderson this spring will be hopping.

“When Ian Anderson pitches, it’s going to be a great opportunity for kids on the other team to be seen, too,” Columbia coach and Suburban Council chairman Chris Dedrick said. “You’ll see pro and college scouts, high-ranking executives. You may even see a general manager. They all have connections. It’s exciting and beneficial for everybody.”

Each team in the league will play every other team at least once. Each team will play two others two times.

“No doubt the competition will be heightened and more consistent. I’m happy about that,” Isabella said. “We’ll have three or four games a week. Before, we had byes and teams forfeiting and things like that.”

The Suburban Council is considered among the most competitive high school baseball leagues in the state of New York. Saratoga Springs and Shenendehowa reached state Class AA finals the last two seasons. In 2011, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake captured the state Class A championship.

“Playing in the Suburban Council is great preparation for a sectional run, and if you get through, after that,” Whitty said. “That’s another great thing this league provides.”

“It’s a hard league,” Burnt Hills senior John Clayton said. “You’ve got to come to play every day. You’ve got to hit, field and pitch, and you’ve got to be smart.”

Shenendehowa was tops in the league record-wise last season with a 15-1 mark, followed by Guilderland (13-3) and Saratoga (11-5). Saratoga dealt Shenendehowa its lone league loss and also topped the Plainsmen in the Section II Class AA final.

“Our kids have played these guys in the summer,” Isabella said. “They know what it’s going to be like.”

The Patriots, and the other three newcomers, aren’t about to back down.

“We lost two starters,” Baron said. “I think we’ll be talked about. I think we’ll be in the mix.”

“We’re bringing a lot of talent from the Big 10,” CBA coach Casey O’Connor said.

Former Big 10 baseball members Catholic Central and LaSalle are competing in the Colonial Council, while Bishop Maginn and Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons are competing in the Western Athletic Conference. Those four also played as independents last season.

Categories: High School Sports

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