By Ted Waddell
MOUNTAINDALE June 14, 2002 Baxter Stadium is usually pretty quiet these days.
After the Mountaindale Lions and Catskill Cougars minor league baseball teams bit the dust out there in the boonies, the field has been left to the ravages of time.
Every once in a while, the sounds of bats connecting with wood and pitches smacking leather can be heard around the facility as local high school and college teams get a taste of playing the national pastime in a stadium atmosphere.
The press box is boarded up. A rain splattered sports equipment catalog rustles in the wind from an approaching thunderstorm.
A Rolling Rock beer sign is peeling, and legions of camp kids arent pestering anybody wearing a uniform by shouting Hey you, give me a ball!
But on Tuesday night, Baxter Stadium woke up as the Sullivan Spartans (1-8) faced off against the Kingston Colonials (2-0).
Both teams are members of the Wooden Bat Collegiate Baseball League (CBL), formerly known as the Hudson Valley Rookie League.
Before the game, the sound of a solitary woodpecker kept the few fans from dozing off in the bleachers.
As the umpires called the game to order, it was back to baseball once again at Baxter Stadium.
With one out in the top of the second inning, Dave Smith smacked a triple for the Colonials. He scored on a single by Rob Astalos to put Kingston one up on the way to a 6-1 win.
In the fourth, Kingston made it a 2-0 ballgame. Brian Clarke led off with a walk, and advanced on a single by Dan Schoonmaker. Mike Kocher sent Clarke across the plate with a single.
The Colonials kept up the scoring with another run in the fifth. Jeff Lackayer led off with a triple. Lex Redding then knocked him in with a single.
Sullivan fought back with a run in the sixth to make it a 3-1 contest.
Mark Stofko of Wurtsboro led off with a single and moved up on a ground out by Monticellos George Brandes. A double by Jim Blondo of Middletown scored Stofko.
But that was all she wrote for the Spartans, as they left the bases loaded when their bats decided to snooze at the plate.
Sullivan pitcher Jim Kautz of Jeffersonville took over from starter Brian Heavey, a Monticello High School grad, in the top of the seventh.
In that final frame, Kingston iced the winners cake with three runs.
Evan Jackson walked and stole second. Lackaye moved him up to third base. After Redding walked, a single by Matt Johnson scored Jackson. Mike Norton singled, sending Redding home. An RBI single by Smith scored Johnson.
Pat Hastings pitched a great game, said Colonials player/coach Mike Kocher. It was his first time pitching for us, and he really dominated the game.
All around, it was a pretty good team effort, he added.
The Sullivan Spartans coaching duties are shared by a couple of local high school grads: Tim Havas (Monticello Class of 1981) serves as manager, while Jared Carrier (Delaware Valley Class of 1997) splits the coaching slot with Stephen Marshall, Sr.
Havas called the game against the Colonials a microcosm of their first season in the CBL.
We have excellent pitching, but were struggling at the plate, he said. We cant bring our base runners home . . . we dont have timely hitting.
We work hard, and we fight, added Havas. We are getting a reputation for being competitive.
Carrier evaluated the Spartans with the eye of a former high school star athlete.
Its our first year out, and we had to fill the team with guys we felt could get the job done, he said. Some guys havent played in a couple of years and are knocking the rust off, and others are in mid-season form.
Carrier said the teams top hurler is Sean McGuire of Bloomingburg, while Monticellos Tim Gilmore earned the Spartans lone victory of the season.
I think well come around, said Carrier. Were hoping to pick up some more pitching, and were waiting on a couple of additions.
With one win in our first nine games, the only place we can go is up, he added.