By Rob Potter
ENDICOTT One of the most successful seasons in the history of the Livingston Manor Central School varsity baseball program came to a disappointing end Saturday morning.
Manor was defeated by Schenectady Christian School, 11-1, in a New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class D semifinal game at Pete Sylvester Field at Union-Endicott High School.
Section IX champion Manor, which was the 15th-ranked Class D team in the New York State Sportswriters Association poll released on June 7, ended its season with a 14-9 record. Schenectady Christian, the Section II champion, improved to 18-8. The Falcons also earned a berth in the title game on Saturday afternoon against the winner of the other Class D semifinal between Section V champion Arkport and Section III champion Hamilton.
Schenectady Christian used a combination of aggressive baserunning and errors by the Wildcats to build a 7-0 lead in the first two innings.
The Falcons scored three times in the top of the first. The first batter of the game, R.J. Gallup reached base on an error. After an out was recorded, Ian Compton walked. Gallup and Compton then successfully pulled off a double steal to move into scoring position at third base and second base, respectively.
The next batter, George Amedore, bunted the ball and Gallup broke for home immediately in the classic suicide squeeze play. Amedore’s bunt was so well placed that he made it to first base without a throw as Gallup scored the game’s first run.
After Compton crossed home plate on a passed ball, the Falcons again successfully executed the suicide squeeze. This time it was Amedore scoring from third base as Stephen Carter was thrown out at first base after bunting.
Schenectady Christian, which was ranked 16th among Class D baseball teams in the New York State Sportswriters Association poll of June 7, added four runs in the top of the second inning.
Matt Gallup walked with the bases loaded to force home Tyler Spence and Amedore was hit by a pitch to force home Collin Stewart and give the Falcons a 5-0 lead.
Moments later, Carter made it a 7-0 contest when he ripped a two-run single to left field.
The Falcons added a run in the top of the fourth on Amedore’s RBI single and a run in the top of the fifth on R.J. Gallup’s RBI double.
The final two Schenectady Christian runs were recorded on Amedore’s RBI double in the sixth and a Wildcats’ error in the seventh.
Manor, which left nine men on base in the contest, finally got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the seventh.
Troy Correa began the frame by belting a stand-up double to right center field. Two batters later, Ross Abbott singled to right center field to bring Correa in to score.
R.J. Gallup earned the win on the mound for the Falcons. He pitched all seven innings, gave up nine hits and one run and struck out five batters.
Edwards (6-1) was the starting pitcher for the Wildcats. He went five innings, allowed four hits, walked four and struck out one. Of the nine runs the Falcons scored against Edwards, only one was earned.
Abbott pitched the final two innings for Manor. He gave up two runs, both of which were earned.
“Before the game, we were pretty loose and felt we could win two games today,” Edwards said. “But in those first two innings, we were nervous and made some mistakes. After that, we started to play better and get some hits.”
Edwards, a junior, noted that he and all of the other players who are coming back next season will miss the team’s four seniors Jonah Hinkley, Shane Lewis, Justin Maggio and Justin Miranda.
“They all did a nice job this season,” Edwards said. “They were good leaders for our team.”
With the tremendous strides the Wildcats have made during the last three seasons by improving their win total from one in 2007 to six last year to 14 this season, they want the success to continue.
“We had a good season and we want to get back to this point next year and win these two games,” Edwards said.
Manor Coach Jeff Loeffler noted that those first two innings really hurt his team.
“We had some nerves in the beginning of the game,” he said. “We had some miscues and Schenectady [Christian] took advantage of them. They executed like a championship team today and we didn’t execute like a championship team.
“I would like to play them again, because I think that we could beat them,” Loeffler added. “But they were the better team today.”
While disappointed by Saturday’s outcome, Loeffler was pleased with the Wildcats’ overall season.
“It was awesome,” he commented. “If you would have told me at the beginning of the season that we would win the Section IX championship and advance to the state Final Four, I would have said ‘Terrific, I’ll take it.
“This gives us a great starting off point for next season,” Loeffler added.
In addition to praising all of his players for their performance this season, Loeffler, who is in his third year of guiding the Manor baseball team, lauded Assistant Coach Ryan Edwards.
“Ryan did a great job this season,” Loeffler explained. “He worked hard with the kids and shared with them the knowledge and experience he gained by playing college baseball. He was a tremendous asset for us.”
Prior to the game, Manor’s Justin Maggio and Schenectady Christian’s Ian Compton were named the New York State Baseball 2009 Good Sports Award Winners for their respective teams.