Golden Knights baseball has turned the corner

Once doormats, Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons makes sectionals again
ND-BG’s Connor Barber beats the throw to Mekeel Christian Academy catcher Matt Show Thursday.
ND-BG’s Connor Barber beats the throw to Mekeel Christian Academy catcher Matt Show Thursday.

SCHENECTADY — The Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons baseball team earned its third straight Section II tournament berth Thursday with a 14-1 mercy rule-shortened win against Mekeel Christian Academy.

Nick Kownack’s grand slam in a six-run fourth inning was the last of eight hits by the Golden Knights. They stole seven bases. Joey Tortello and Kownack in relief stymied the Lions in another solid performance from the deep ND-BG pitching staff.

“I’m in a perfect world right now,” Bishop Gibbons’ sixth-year head coach Kacy Daus said after his team went to 9-2, and 6-1 against Western Athletic Conference foes. “I’m fortunate my family allows me the time to do this. I’ve got great support from the administration here and our parents. I’ve got terrific players on top of it.”

Though a relatively young team with two seniors, they are experienced at the varsity level, and the have a tight bond, too, one forged in both school and summer ball. Together they did what no group before them had by securing the program’s third consecutive postseason nod.

“You can tell we’re more than a team,” senior shortstop and pitcher Vinny Sorrentino said. “We are a family. We’ve spent a lot of time together. You really bond during a three-hour practice, and we’ve had a lot of those. We enjoy each other and that reflects on the field.”

Bishop Gibbons has put itself in position for its third straight double-digit win season.

“Kacy changed the culture,” Bishop Gibbons assistant coach Chris Campbell said.

In Daus’ first year in charge, the Golden Knights did not win a game.

“It was a rebuild. At that time is was, ‘Let’s see if we can turn it around,'” Daus said. “We went 0-for the first year. The second year we had two wins, in our last two games against Bishop Maginn and Berne-Knox-Westerlo.”

Bishop Gibbons won seven games in 2015, posted 14 victories in 2016 and finished with 10 wins a year ago.

“I believe this year is going to be our year,” said Sorrentino, a four-year varsity player who is 5-1 on the mound with a 1.06 ERA. “This is the best team I’ve played on since I’ve been here. This is the year we’re going to make a run.”

Sorrentino was referring to last year’s Class C sectionals, and a first-round loss to Greenwich. In 2016 Bishop Gibbons beat Duanesburg to begin sectional play, and then lost to Greenville.

“We did very well last year, and we had a rough game,” Kownack, a sophomore first baseman and pitcher, said of his team’s 15-2 loss to Greenwich. “That drives us every day to get better and keep working.”

The Golden Knights are certainly motivated, from the recent past, and from the program’s history that is dotted with only a smattering of success.

“We don’t want it to end quick again,” said Tortello, a sophomore, who quarterbacked his Holy Trinity football team to the state final last fall. “We want to play deep and keep playing baseball.”

The Golden Knights played well Wednesday, scoring four runs in the first inning and three more in the second, while Tortello scattered four singles, escaped a bases-loaded threat and allowed a run in his four frames.

“We have good pitching,” Kownack said soon after launching his first varsity homer over the left field fence. “One through five can throw. With our lineup, one through nine can hit. We play good defense.”

Jacob Trombley had a big game for ND-BG with a two-run double, RBI single and two stolen bases. Joey Matala and Anthony Vicinanzo hit RBI singles. Will Somerville drove in the Mekeel (2-3, 2-5) run with a fielder’s choice grounder.

“A pitcher doesn’t get a break with their lineup,” Mekeel assistant coach Daron Savoy said of Bishop Gibbons.

The baseball and softball teams’ success this spring is the continuation of a big year for Bishop Gibbons varsity teams. The boys’ soccer and basketball teams, and the girls’ volleyball team, previously posted winning records and competed in postseason tournaments.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.

Categories: High School Sports, Sports

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