The Albany Academy and Voorheesville baseball teams have a lot in common.
The Cadets and the Blackbirds shared second place in the Colonial Council’s Patriots Division, swept through four opponents to win Section II championships and following regional victories, find themselves in today’s state semifinals in Binghamton for the first time.
“I was talking to [Voorheesville coach] Kyle Turski about what that says about the Colonial Council. We’ve got two teams from the same division going,” said Albany Academy coach Dave Rider. “It says we have a competitive league. The games in our division with Schalmont and Fonda were all very competitive. It helps when you play that kind of schedule.”
Albany Academy (17-5) and Voorheesville (19-5) — which split their two league games — have followed the path taken by Shaker and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake last season. Those teams came out of the rugged Suburban Council North Division to win sectional and regional crowns, with Shaker eventually bowing in the state Class AA final and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake taking New York’s Class A flag.
“I think our schedule toughened us up,” said Rider. “We went into the sectionals with a No. 6 seed and had to beat some tough teams to win it. They [Voorheesville] won theirs as the No. 8 seed.”
The Cadets take on Briarcliff (Section I, 22-4) in a Class B semifinal at Conlon Field in MacArthur Park, and the Blackbirds go against Haldane (Section I, 19-3) in a Class C semifinal at Johnson City High School in bids to continue their seasons. Both of those games start at 10 this morning.
While Voorheesville needed just one regional win to advance, Albany Academy needed two, and got it done with an 11-0 shutout of Saranac Wednesday and a 12-7 triumph over Ogdensburg Free Academy Tuesday.
Ben Brown went the distance on a three-hitter, Justin Brock went 4-for-4, Tyler Hynes had a double, single and three RBI and Ian Bennett had a double, single and two RBI in the win over Saranac that gave the Cadets their first regional title.
“We’ve been through a lot. We’ve had some injuries. We had a tough sectional bracket we had to get through. We had to travel and win two regional games where some teams only needed to win one,” said Rider. “I have a unique bunch of kids, and they’ve been kind of oblivious to it all. Our kids just go out and do their thing, try to put the ball in play and hope for the best.”
The Cadets emerged as Section II’s best Class B team when they beat Catskill for the title, 6-3. Narrow postseason wins against Fonda-Fultonville (5-2), Chatham (5-4) and Greenville (6-5) came before the Cadets claimed their first sectional banner since the 1983 season.
“We’ve had some outstanding baseball teams and some outstanding players at the school,” said Rider. “A lot of things have to fall in place to get this far.”
Ted Smallwood, who got the wins against OFA, Catskill and Chatham, will get the start against Briarcliff, the 2011 state Class B runner-up.
“We’d like to see Ted go the distance and then come back with Ben. That would be the ideal scenario,” said Rider. “He [Brown] only threw 78, 79 pitches the other day, and he’s in great shape.”
Briarcliff beat Oyster Bay, 5-3, and Babylon, 13-5, in regional games. Briarcliff scored 12 runs with two outs in the sixth inning to overhaul Babylon and win its eighth straight game.
“Looking at their stats, they’re very impressive, but they don’t tell you everything, and obviously, we haven’t seen them,” said Rider, who guided Albany Academy ice hockey teams to three state championships. “This is one of those situations where you focus on what you have to do.”
Oneonta (Section IV, 22-2) and Wayland-Cohoction (Section V,
19-5) meet in the second Class B semifinal at 1. The championship game is at 4. Ichabod Crane was Section II’s last Class B champ in 1992.
Voorheesville piled up 20 hits, scored in every inning, and Anthony Scaccia and Kyle Nichols limited Ticonderoga to four hits in a 19-0 regional win Wednesday. The Blackbirds claimed their first Section II title before that by beating Hoosick Falls (6-1), Greenwich (7-4, nine innings), Hoosic Valley (11-0) and Mechanicville (5-0).
Kevin Connolly got the wins against Hoosick Falls, Greenwich (in relief) and Hoosic Valley to push his season total to eight, and will get the call against Haldane. Connolly was among the Blackbirds’ hitting stars against Ticonderoga with a double, two singles and six RBI, while J.D. Springer collected three singles and five RBI.
Haldane posted a pair of regional shutouts against Pierson/Bridgehampton (3-0) and Tri-Valley (7-0), with Ryan Kovel and Dan Kinnaird combining for 13 of the 14 shutout innings.
Lansing (Section IV, 24-0) and Frewsburg (Section VI, 20-4) meet in the second Class C semifinal at 1. The championship game is at 4. Maple Hill was Section II’s last state Class C champ in 2009, and Fort Plain went the distance in 2007. Section II has had 10 state Class C title-winning teams.
Fort Ann (21-3) is at Broome Community College for the Class D final four, which it swept in 2010. Loudonville Christian and Schenectady Christian placed second in the state last year and in 2009, respectively.