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Class AA baseball championships move to a best-of-3 series

Shenendehowa teammates celebrate their win over Niskayuna in the Section II Class AA championship game at Joe Bruno Stadium in Troy on June 3, 2019.

Shenendehowa teammates celebrate their win over Niskayuna in the Section II Class AA championship game at Joe Bruno Stadium in Troy on June 3, 2019.

For at least the next two postseasons, the Section II Class AA baseball tournament will conclude with a best-of-three championship series.

The three-game series will be implemented this year at the Class AA level as a pilot program, but has been on the minds of coaches for a while.

“We’ve wanted it for years,” Guilderland coach Doug LaValley said at Tuesday’s Suburban Council baseball media day at Shaker High School. “It’s been five, six, seven years and [the baseball committee] finally said, ‘OK, let’s try it.’”

Other Section II tournaments will continue this year with a one-game championship.

Some classifications on Long Island already use best-of-three playoff series, sometimes including a best-of-three format in its semifinal match-ups.
The Section II Class AA pilot was approved to launch prior to the 2020 spring season, which was canceled due to restrictions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic, and the section opted not to use the best-of-three format in 2021 since there was no state tournament that year.

“In a one-game series, anybody can beat anybody,” said Mike DeMagistris, the Gloversville athletic director who serves as the Section II baseball coordinator. “In a three-game series, the team with the best pitching staff should win.

“I think that will better prepare our Section II teams for when they get up to the state tournament; they’ve been through a three-game series, they’ve used their pitching staff and are better prepared for the state championship run.”

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“It’s been proven that you need three to five guys to survive the weekend [of state semifinals and championship play] in Binghamton, and you probably need two or three guys to get through a regional game if the other team is as competitive as they have been in the past,” Shenendehowa coach Greg Christodulu said.

Game 1 of this year’s Section II Class AA best-of-three series is scheduled to be played May 25, and Game 2 is set for May 27. An if-necessary Game 3 is scheduled for May 29, with all championship games set to be played at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium in Troy.

“I’m not sure if this could happen across all classifications because the AA [teams] have more players; most AA teams have pitching staffs,” DeMagistris said. “Some of the smaller classifications, their position players are their pitchers.”

But the new Class AA format is intriguing to Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake coach Josh Hadcock, who lost in last year’s Class A final 2-1 to Troy with LSU-commit Mike Kennedy on the mound. Kennedy gave up just three hits and struck out 10 to lead Troy to the Class A crown.

“When you look at what we faced with the Troy kid [Mike Kennedy], and it was a great game in the sectional final, I would have loved to have had two more,” Hadcock said. “I think we’re going to see how the pilot goes. I think it’s awesome for the kids.”

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