Sullivan County Democrat
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Democrat Photo by Ted Waddell

JIM KAUTZ, CATCHER for the Sullivan Spartans, rechalks home plate. Kautz was described by his coach as the team’s “maintenance man.”

Spartans Split

By Ted Waddell
MOUNTAINDALE — July 23, 2002 – The Sullivan County Spartans (12-15) played a doubleheader against the Orange Country Pirates (5-18) on Saturday at Baxter Stadium to end their regular season three games short of making the .500 cutoff for the playoffs.
In the first game, the local lads made the Pirates walk the plank, 3-1, despite the hot afternoon sun at Baxter Stadium in Mountaindale.
In the second outing of the afternoon, the Spartans got swashbuckled, as the Pirates unleashed a 2-0 broadside.
With two outs, the Pirates’ Matt Martin smacked a solo homer over the fence in the first inning of the early game.
In the bottom of the second, the Spartans made it a 1-1 ballgame. With two outs, player/coach Jared Carrier singled and stole second.
Lance Vandermark doubled to the gap in left centerfiield, but was thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple, and Carrier scored on the play.
In the third, the Spartans closed out the game’s scoring by adding two runs to their side of the scorebook.
Scott Coddington reached on an error at center and stole second. Jesus Pintado earned the hot stick of the afternoon award as he hammered a homer to left center field to score two runs to give the Spartans a 3-1 victory.
Between the games, Pintado helped Spartans catcher James Kautz, described by his coach as a “one-man maintenance crew” re-chalk the batters box. A three-girl cheering squad in the form of Laura Baratta, Desiree Rivera and Janine Cinque, waited for their favorite players, Sean McGuire and Andy Peterson, to take to the field.
James Biondo pitched a complete second game for the Spartans, striking out eight and scattering seven hits. John Pintka took the loss for the Pirates.
In the top of the third, the Pirates lead off batter Chris Stelmark tripled with two outs but was left stranded looking longingly at home.
As the lads from Sullivan came off the field in the bottom of the fifth, Pintado tried to get their bats moving. “Ok team, let’s get some hits and go home,” he said.
In the sixth, Biondo singled. John McElwee hit into a double play to end the Spartans’ only real scoring threat of the afternoon.
In the top of the final frame, the Pirates scored two runs to win the game. Brett Verdicchio singled with one out. Travis Stephens walked. The runners advanced on a fielder’s choice by Jeff Stafford. Brad Natilizio, the team’s number nine hitter, sent both runners across the plate with a two RBI single.
Verdicchio picked up the win for the Pirates. On the road to a loss, McGuire struck out four for the Spartans.
In the absence of Pirates’ coach Bob Semarano, Verdicchio stepped up to the plate to offer a few comments after the double header.
Back in 1996 after graduating from high school, he tried out for the local minor league ball team at Baxter Stadium.
“It’s a beautiful field in a rural setting,” he said. “It brings back a lot of memories.”
His take on the teams? “The Spartans are a pretty good young team – we’re a combination of kids coming out of high school and a few Division I college players.”
“We came out today with nothing to lose,” said Spartans Player/Coach Carrier, a former star at Delaware Valley Central School in Callicoon.
“We got knocked out of the playoffs, so we just wanted to have fun on a nice day and play some ball.”

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