Schenectady Christian School baseball coach Chad Bowman is going to find out if momentum is more important than rested arms today when the Falcons continue their improbable run at a state championship.
The Falcons (17-8) take on Section IX champion Livingston Manor at 10 this morning at Union-Endicott High School in Endicott in the first game of the Class D semifinal double-header. The winner will advance to the championship game, to be held at 4 p.m.
While Schenectady Christian had to win two regional games to get to the semifinals, Livingston Manor has been off for 10 days, since defeating S.S. Seward, 6-3, on June 3 to win the Section IX title.
Because of the way the brackets were set up, the Wildcats got a free ride to today’s semifinals, because there are no Class D schools in Sections I, VIII or X.
“Al [Section 2 baseball chairman Al Roy] said he is going to look into it,” said Bowman, in his first year as the Falcons’ coach after replacing Dan DeAngelis, who started the program just five years ago. “We were the only team that had to play two regional games.”
Which leaves Bowman with his momentum versus rested arms dilemma.
“We’ve had things like this happen in basketball before and it’s not really a big deal, but in baseball, you’re talking about innings and arms,” said Bowman. “We had to throw two pitchers, and they’re 100 percent, in regards to their pitching.”
Livingston Manor (14-8) has two excellent pitchers in Ross Abbott and Troy Edwards, and both will be ready to go today.
“You never know if taking a week off, they may lose their edge,” said Bowman. “I’m not looking at our situation as a negative. I’m looking at it as a positive because we’re playing extremely well.”
Momentum is definitely on the Falcons’ side. They rallied to defeat Indian Lake/Long Lake, 5-2, in the regional semifinals on Monday, and then crushed Clifton Fine, 18-2, Wednesday to advance to today’s semifinal.
Senior R.J. Gallup will be back on the mound for the Falcons, even though he pitched in the victory over Clifton Fine.
“We caught a break because we scored early and got R.J. out of there in the third inning after 26 pitches,” said Bowman. “That was like a bullpen session for him.”
Gallup, who plays shortstop when he isn’t on the mound, is also the Falcons’ leading hitter, averaging .382. But his brother Matt (.350) and senior Ian Compton (.309) are the only other players who are hitting .300 or better.
“We’re not a mash unit,” said Bowman. “We don’t crush the ball and pile up a lot of runs. We know we have to hit well and manufacture runs.”
Matt Gallup has produced at the plate and on the mound in the regionals. He scattered seven hits and struck out 11 against Indian Lake/Long Lake, and drove in four runs against Clifton Fine.
Because of that lack of offensive clout, however, the Falcons depend on solid defense and good pitching.
“We’ve made three errors in five [postseason] games. and our pitchers aren’t walking a lot of batters,” said Bowman. “We know that teams are going to hit here, because these are all good teams. But we want to force them to string hits together to get runs. If you make an error or give up a couple of walks, one hit can lead to runs.”
Livingston Manor has made a huge turnaround under the direction of third-year coach Jeff Loeffler. The year before Loeffler took over, Livingston Manor had to combine with neighboring Roscoe to have enough players to field a team. The Wildcats won just one game (1-15) during Loeffler’s first season, but improved to 6-10 last season and go into today’s semifinal ranked No. 6 in the state in Class D, while the Falcons are ranked 11th.
In the second semifinal today, Hamilton (Section III. 20-4) will face Arkport (Section V, 18-2). The Emerald Knights of Hamilton defeated South Kortright, which was ranked No. 1 in the state, 4-2, in their regional final, and are looking for a rare double, as they also won the state Class D championship in soccer.
Section II champion Columbia (21-4) takes on Clarence (Section VI, 21-6) in the Class AA semifinals at 1 p.m. today at NYSEG Stadium in Binghamton. The winner will play for the championship at 4.