Eli Ruiz | Democrat
Eldred first baseman Jake Halter receives throw on pick-off attempt from pitcher Anthony Margarum. The Coleman runner dove back safely.
Eldred’s season ends on wild note
Story by Eli Ruiz
NEW PALTZ May 31, 2013 After a miserable 2012 season with only three wins, Eldred senior Anthony Margarum came into Wednesday's Section IX Class D championship game against John A. Coleman with a definite game-plan for extending the Yellowjackets best baseball season in decades.
"I just need to throw lots of strikes," he offered before taking the field at SUNY New Paltz. "If I can maintain the strike-zone today, I'm confident that my defense will back me up. Pitching should be key today."
As it turned out pitching was key, but the defending Class D state champion and second-seeded Statesmen behind junior Jim LaValle, did the better job on the mound. Coupled with a rough outing from Margarum including several wild pitches and passed balls that led to six unearned runs Coleman will get to play at least one more game in its quest for a second consecutive state title after working out a 7-3 victory over Eldred.
Margarum's very first pitch of the day set the tone for most of Eldred’s day as he hit Coleman's leadoff batter, senior second baseman Nate Gray. After taking first on the inside pitch, Gray quickly stole second, moved to third on a passed ball and then scored the Statesmen's first run on a Margarum wild pitch.
"Those wild pitches and passed balls were a boon to us today as far as runs," offered Gray after the contest.
Kevin Davis scored another Coleman run again on a Margarum wild pitch in the second inning before Nick Sirbaugh ripped a single to center scoring J. Ryan to give the Statesmen an early 3-0 edge.
Eldred showed some defensive prowess in the third when Coleman pitcher LaValle blasted a Margarum pitch to right-field where an alert Eric Lepes not only gather the ball, but also gunned down a Statesmen baserunner trying to make his way back to first.
Like Eldred, Coleman also was plagued by some sloppy play. A couple of errors off hard-hit balls by Maragarum and Nick Wyss helped Eldred push across a run in the fourth, cutting the deficit to two runs with just one out. and the bases loaded. But Gage Halter hit into a double play to end a promising inning for the Yellowjackets.
“Today was tough," offered Eldred coach J.J. Gass. "It's like we were on the verge of some big plays all day, but we just couldn't pull them off," he added.
Coleman added four more runs to their tally in a tough sixth inning for Eldred. With the score now 4-1, Gray again scored on another passed ball. LaValle then blasted a deep sacrifice fly to right scoring another run and giving Coleman a 6-1 lead. Kevin Davis rounded out the scoring for Coleman with an RBI single to center.
Eldred didn’t give up easily, though, putting up two runs in the sixth, Halter's bouncer past LaValle scored Margarum and then an infield throwing error allowed Wyss to score as well. But it was too little too late for Eldred as Eric Lepes struck out to end the rally with Coleman up 7-3.
"We were hoping to get as many innings from Jimmy [LaValle] as possible," said Coleman coach Bob Brinkman. "He coasted through the second, third and fourth, but then he got into a little trouble there in the fifth and sixth. He just didn't get some batters he should have gotten out and that made those innings difficult and stressful for us. He had to have extended his pitch count by at least 30 during those innings."
Brinkman credits much of Coleman’s post-season success to the vigorous league schedule it plays in the Mid-Hudson Athletic League (MHAL), several games against Class C and B schools.
"The season changes for us in the playoffs where we play schools and competition more our size. During the regular season we have to face teams like Spackenkill who we played close, but I think that if we put it all together, the pitching, fielding and the batting, we can accomplish anything."
On the other hand, though Eldred won its first OCIAA league title ever, only one other team Livingston Manor was in its Division. The champion was determined by who won two of the three games played between the two teams.
After the loss Gass could be heard consoling his players. "It's high school ball. You guys are all very young and this experience, though painful, will pass."
Offered a disappointed Margarum, "Lots of key walks and mistakes. I can't blame it on anyone at all. A few key things got messed up like that double play they turned when we were threatening. In the end we just didn't get it done."
Coleman Catholic will move on to play familiar state rival Smithtown Christian (15-5) of Section II in a state quarterfinal game on Monday at SUNY New Paltz.