Saratoga Central Catholic baseball coach Phonsey Lambert had a milestone to go after and senior night festivities all planned out, but no opponent to play, until Warrensburg stepped up to the plate as a fill-in for Broadalbin-Perth.
“I got the call Friday night at 7:50. Broadalbin-Perth had its league game with Johnstown rained out, and they decided to play Saturday,” Lambert said. “I didn’t want to tell my 11 seniors we didn’t have a game, so by chance, I called [Warrensburg coach] Rex Reynolds and they came over. That was a top-notch thing he did.”
Saratoga Catholic did great things on the mound and with the bats Saturday night in a 13-0 non-league win over Warrensburg at Veterans Memorial Field, which boosted Lambert’s victory total to 500. Lambert, who took over the Saints’ varsity in 1988, became just the third Section II baseball coach to reach 500 with his 15th triumph this spring.
“I kind of downplayed it all year, but it’s very special,” Lambert said late Saturday night. “I think of all of the players that played for me, all the great coaches that coached with me, all of the support we’ve gotten over the years. A lot of people had a part in this.”
That includes each of Saratoga Catholic’s 17 players who saw action in the milestone victory. Among them, Kyle Bailey worked the first four innings before Joe Schmidt, Terel Tillman and Owen O’Reilly each pitched a scoreless frame in a combined two-hitter, while Bailey and Lane Gannon combined for five hits and five RBI.
“We always seem to have young kids who learn from our leaders, and become our leaders,” said Lambert, whose roster has an eighth-grader in Nicholas Winslow and a freshman in Tillman. “We just keep it going.”
Lambert’s team have won 20 league titles, five Section II championships and three regional crowns. His 2000 team, which featured Tim Stauffer, was the state Class C runner-up.
“We don’t have a lot of kids in our school, but 50 of them are playing baseball right now on our modified, JV and varsity teams,” Lambert said. “We’ve built a program here. The kids know the history. It’s something we’re very proud of.”
Lambert inherited an 0-18 team, and in his first three seasons guided the Saints to 10, seven and 18 wins. Nine of his teams afterward would record 20 wins or more.
Lambert joined a select group of Section II coaches with 500 varsity wins in one sport. Here’s a look at some of the others.
Fort Plain’s 43-year varsity baseball coach entered the week with 733 wins, tops on the all-time Section II list. The veteran mentor has guided his teams to 21 league titles and nine Section II flags. His 2007 edition won the state Class C championship.
Second on the all-time Section II baseball list, Queensbury’s 38-year head coach came into this week with 634 victories. Nine of his teams have claimed Section II championships and five have reached the state final four, including last season’s edition.
The Maple Hills boys’ soccer coach notched his 600th win against Hudson to begin the 2015 season, and went on to add 17 more victories to his all-time Section II-leading total. Since taking over in 1974, he has led the Wildcats to 22 Section II titles and a trio of New York championships.
The Shenendehowa boys’ soccer coach for 32 years amassed 534 wins before stepping down in 2011. Among his six state title teams, his 1988 and 1991 groups were tabbed national champions. Of Campisi’s 17 Section II title teams, 14 of them reached the state final four.
A multi hall of fame girls’ basketball coach, Strube led the Shenendehowa girls’ basketball team for 33 seasons in a brilliant run that concluded in 2012. His Lady Plainsmen along the way secured 10 Section II championships and four New York banners, and ranked up 588 wins for the most in Section II history.
The late Gene Gould joined Strube and Campisi in Shenendehowa’s 500-win club in the spring of 2011 with his boys’ tennis team.
In a three-decade run with the Watervliet boys’ basketball team through 2008, Mardigan piled up a Section II-record 546 wins. He led his alma mater to 12 Colonial Council titles (eight in a row), 14 Section II banners and five regional flags. Twelve of his teams won 20 games or more including his 28-0 1990-91 edition that followed up its NYSPHSAA title by becoming Section II’s first Federation champ.
The late Warrensburg legend finished his boys’ basketball coaching stint in 1983 with a then-state record 518 victories. Khoury also led football (143 wins) and baseball (449 wins) teams at the school, and ranked up 1,110 victories in a hall of fame career that started in the mid-40s.
Khoury is just ahead of former Albany coach Paul Lyons (515 over 31 years) on the all-time Section II boys’ basketball win list. Eight of Lyons’ teams snared Section II titles.
A volleyball novice when he took over the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake varsity girls’ team in 1988, Bynon has propelled the Spartans to 646 wins. His team set a program record with 31 wins this past season, capped by a sixth state championship. His team also extended BH-BL’s Suburban Council win streak to 377 matches before claiming its 21st Section II title and 17th regional title.
The Lake George girls’ volleyball coach picked up 15 wins in her 40th and final season last fall to push her career total to 673, tops all-time in Section II. Stanikla led her teams to 15 straight Section II titles from 1989-2003, a mark Bynon will try to equal in the 2016 campaign.
Stanilka won 1,002 varsity games including 329 as the Warriors’ sotball coach.