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Democrat Photo by Frank Rizzo

Rafi Fine of Fallsburg hurls a pitch to Kyle Kloorfain of Chester in Wednesday’s 18-1 romp by the host Comets in Fallsburg. Fine yielded one hit — in the seventh inning — and struck out eight in the complete game.

Comets Romp Behind Fine

By Frank Rizzo
FALLSBURG — April 14, 2000 -- A pity the mercy rule was not in force, ’else Fallsburg could have put an end to the misery much sooner in Wednesday’s wind-blasted, cold-weather baseball game.
The visiting Chester Hambletonians — basically a jayvee squad with a couple of seniors to give it varsity legitimacy — were easy pickings for the Comets, who romped 18-1 to improve to 2–1 in the Orange County League (OCL) National Conference Division II standings.
The 15-run mercy rule only applies to OCL jayvee and modified baseball games; contests such as Fallsburg-Chester or the 38-1 humiliation Cornwall inflicted on John S. Burke recently might change that rule.
Rafi Fine picked up his first win for the Comets, limiting Chester to one hit — a solid single by Seth Roche to lead off the seventh. Fine fanned eight and walked six.
“This was a very positive experience for him,” said Fallsburg co-coach Jamie Lent. “Rafi doesn’t overpower anyone, but he’s got good control and works the plate well and can put the ball where he wants to.”
Tim Gilmore supplied the firepower, blasting four homers (and hitting for the “cycle” with a solo, two- and three-run shots and a grand slam) and driving in 10 runs.
“I was so relaxed out there — you can’t have too much tension at the plate,” Gilmore commented. “I mostly try to put the ball in play.”
Overwhelming the Visitors
The lone run by Chester came in the first, on an outfield error.
Fallsburg wasted no time against Chester starter John Bienskie. With one out in the Fallsburg half of the first, Fine tied the game with a homer, and Gilmore followed up by launching an offering well beyond the 335 foot mark in the power alley.
Bienskie retired the first two Comets in the second, but then gave up a homer to Corey Buckner. A solid single by Corey Huber and a walk to Fine set up Gilmore’s three-run homer and a 6-1 Fallsburg lead.
After Bienskie hit Austin Pantel and gave up a bloop single to Joe Calvello, his mound duties were taken away as Ray Otte came on to pitch and temporarily stop the damage.
Otte’s turn came in the third, when he yielded a run-scoring double to Huber before loading the bases and offering a first-pitch homer to Gilmore, whose ball barely cleared the fence.
After Huber opened the fifth with a double and came on to score on an error, Gilmore greeted the new pitcher, Dustin Siegel, with a two-run homer and 14-1 Fallsburg lead.
A two-run double by designated hitter Shawn Hindes later in the inning padded the lead.
In the sixth, Gilmore “merely” doubled, sending Fine, who had walked, to third. Pantel’s sac fly scored Fine, and a double by Joe Calvello then plated Gilmore with the final run.
Some pity for the hapless opponent was expressed in the Comet dugout, to which Lent reminded his players, “We’re not that far removed from where they are now. They’ll turn it around, like we did.”
This is Lent’s second varsity season guiding the Comets, along with Brett Cancredi. Three years ago, the pair were co-coaching the Fallsburg jayvee squad.
“We brought a lot of these guys up through the system,” Lent commented. “We have a nice mixture on the team.”
Another Competitive Year
The Division II race should be competitive, according to Lent, especially since defending Class D state champ S.S. Seward of Florida has graduated most of its team.
“Tuxedo and Florida are both solid, and Tuxedo’s had our number,” Lent commented.
On April 5, the Comets lost to visiting Tuxedo 8-6 as the Tornadoes scored four in the sixth and two in the seventh to pull out the win.
Gilmore took the loss after limiting Tuxedo to two runs through five. Darren Kinney and Austin Pantel had two hits each.
Last Friday the Comets traveled to Liberty and won 10-2 behind Kinney’s pitching. At the plate, Kinney went 2-for-4 while Gilmore was 3-for-4 with three RBI and Calvello added four RBI. Dan Mitro pitched one inning of scoreless relief.
Lent discounted the easy win, aided by Fallsburg jumping out ahead 8-0.
“I think they (Liberty) had one of those bad days, just like we had against Tuxedo,” he said.
Gilmore’s Hot
Wasting no time in the transition from an excellent basketball season, senior Tim Gilmore has had a hot start.
He began the season by no-hitting Eldred 7-0 in a March 30 non-league game. he fanned 15 in the game while slamming a two-run homer.
“I’ve been going to Steve Pinto’s for the past few weeks, starting the last two weeks of the basketball season,” Gilmore said, mentioning the Pro Prospects baseball school run by Rock Hill’s Pinto, ex-player coach for the Catskill Cougars. “It’s been helping with getting my mechanics ready. This is definitely the best start I’ve ever had.”
Regarding the upcoming season, Gilmore said, “We’re shooting for the division and conference titles, and to go as far as we can in sectionals. We have the unit [to do it] this year. Everyone is more focused.”
Notes: “When do you think our first warm game will be?” Huber asked Buckner in the chilly dugout. “I don’t know,” replied the senior second baseman. “I was thinking maybe the spring break tournament.” The Comets will be playing later this month in the tourney, hosted by Delaware Valley… Lent gave credit to the maintenance staff for getting the soggy field ready for play… Chester returned to varsity action after one year off. The Hambletonians are coached by veteran Tony Mancuso, who turned the program around at Orange County CC. Mancuso acknowledged that it will be a long year dealing with his inexperienced squad but, “I’m on the Jimmy Johnson plan,” he said to with a laugh. Johnson, of course, took the Dallas Cowboys from one win to the Super Bowl in a space of three years.



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