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MAR - Final: Kingsbridge tops Niskayuna, 9-1

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Diary of a Mad Sportswriter: MAR - Final: Kingsbridge tops Niskayuna, 9-1

Diary of a Mad Sportswriter

Stan Hudy is a sportswriter for The Saratogian and Community News. He covers high school and youth sports in the Saratoga County area as well as writing a weekly book review on sports books. He's not just a "stick and ball" sportswriter, he's willing to take on any sport as well as any subject.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

MAR - Final: Kingsbridge tops Niskayuna, 9-1

Knights tops in Mid-Atlantic Regional

CLIFTON PARK – Kingsbridge Knight manager Michael Navarro told his team parents that if they won two games at the Cal Ripken Baseball 11-year-old Mid-Atlantic Regional that would be good.

Now he’s got to eat his words as his Knights posted another perfect record, 6-0, and captured the highest honor in the Babe Ruth Baseball League for this age group, a Mid-Atlantic Regional title with a convincing 9-1 win over Niskayuna at the Clifton Common Baseball Complex.

“All the teams here are champions,” Navarro said after being doused with ice water, ice, Gatorade and anything else his jubilant players and parents could find. “Everyone came through at different moments and everyone contributed at the right time.”

Kingbridge continued to assault the scoreboard for the sixth consecutive game, hitting three home runs and actually hitting the scoreboard above the 200-foot mark of the center field fence on its way to making history for the organization.

“This is the first team in 62 years to win a Mid-Atlantic Regional,” Navarro said.
Besides the offensive prowess the Knights showed throughout the weekend series, the squad rode the arm of hurler Adam de la Cruz who pitched a five-hit, one run complete game victory.

“My plan was to finish the whole game,” de la Cruz said. “This was my first time in a Cal Ripken Mid-Atlantic Regional. It was an honor to pitch the last game.”

Despite his lack of experience, de la Cruz provided a valuable lesson to the Niskayuna squad.

“Our team learned that the quality of pitching improves as we went through the tournament,” Niskayuna coach Tom Spataro said. “We faced a pitcher today that had three pitches and threw all of them well.”

The right-handed fire baller struck out 11 and walked only one batter.
“They kept missing my curveball and the fastball,” de la Cruz said. “They weren’t staying back when I threw it (curveball) and if they stayed back too much I threw my fastball right down the pipe.”

After two short rain delays, the Knights brought back the thunder and the lightning, but in their own way.

Henry Miller led off with a double to centerfield and was plated at the expense of Niskayuna starter Adam Gleason. Drew Semler drilled a liner back through the box and off Gleason's right thigh. The ball bounced past the second baseman and into right field for a 1-0 lead.

Gleason remained in the game, giving up a hit and a walk to load the bases, but escaped without any further damage to himself or his Warriors.

The Kingbridge power station was on line again in the second inning as Miller and Semler both left the yard.

Miller sent a Gleason pitch over the right field fence with Sammy Zambrano on first after a one-out single. Semler followed and the drinks are on him as he jettisoned new reliever, Brian Toys's pitch high over the center field wall, hitting the Pepsi scoreboard for a 4-0 lead.

De la Cruz made the most of his base on balls, moving around on a walk to Randy Taveras and scoring on an RBI single by Justin Juarbe for the 5-0 lead.

Niskayuna got on the board in the top of the third after Jessie Darsinos led off with a single and moved over on a passed ball. He went to third on a groundout and scored on Tom Spataro's single to left. He was thrown out at second, attempting to stretch it into a double.

Kingsbridge tacked on another run and threatened for more in the fourth inning after Semler led off with a hit by pitch, moved over on a wild pitch and moved to third on a Lenny Ortiz single. He was plated on an RBI single by Tavares for the 6-1 lead.
The Knights had the bases loaded, but Niskayuna ended the threat with a double play from first to home on a grounder.

Hitting can be contagious and that was evident when Jack Stein came off the bench, once again in a pinch-hitter role, just as he has all tournament-long and put the exclamation point on the Knights win.

With an 0-2 count, Stein sent the Rawling prize over the right field wall and into the parking lot for a 7-1 lead. The rest was academic after Semler walked and home run derby winner de la Cruz sent a rocket over the center field fence for a 9-1 lead.

“It wasn’t that hard,” Stein said about his second home run of the summer. “I kept my eye on the pitch, swung hard and got a home run.”

The round-tripper wasn’t a foregone conclusion for the pinch-hitter.

“It felt good,” Stein said. “I had a feeling that the outfielder was going to reach over the fence and rob it.”

Both squads plan on returning to the Mid-Atlantic Regional, a year older and with a Cal Ripken World Series berth on the line.

“Our team learned that they didn’t like watching the other team get the trophy,” Spataro said. “They all said ‘That’ll be us next year.’”

The Warriors may have to battle the Knights again next year, a challenge they are willing to take on.

“We need to stay much hungrier,” Navarro said. “Next year they’ll be coming for us and we hope to be here again.”

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