Berne-Knox-Westerlo baseball, just like every other team, dealing with lousy weather
The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael
Fever pitch: Berne-Knox-Westerlo senior Maclin Norray throws a pitch during the second inning of Tuesday’s home game against Middleburgh; the game was suspended in the bottom of the third inning due to rain with the Bulldogs ahead, 8 to 0. BKW is 2-5 on the season.
BERNE — The elongated winter season already pushed back the start of the Section 2 baseball season by two weeks, and now the recent spell of rain has created more of a log-jam in the schedule.
Every Section 2 baseball team is in the same situation with the lousy weather, but Berne-Knox-Westerlo Head Coach Matt Goebel said, no matter what the conditions, his team has taken this season in stride.
“This is the worst year that I can remember,” said Goebel on Wednesday after BKW’s home game on Tuesday against Middleburgh was suspended in the third inning due to rain. “All we can do is stay in the moment, and take games when they come. The players’ attitudes have been great.”
On Tuesday, the Bulldogs were ahead, 8 to 0, when the game was postponed; it will resume again next Monday.
When the season started, BKW’s first three games were wiped out, and then the team missed a tournament. The Bulldogs have 11 games to finish.
“It’s still chaotic; the fields aren’t good,” Goebel said. “Now, we’re trying to get more than half the games in over two weeks. We’ll have to play five games per week.”
Will the stockpiling of games make BKW tired or give the team momentum?
“It’s nice to play everyday because you get into a rhythm,” said Goebel; it’s his second season as the varsity coach. “Our practices have been going well, though, working on flaws, and adjusting. The players have been phenomenal with reading the ball out of the pitcher’s hand, or keeping their weight back while batting. They’ve done everything I’ve asked them to do.”
Currently, the Bulldogs are 2-5 in the Western Athletic Conference. BKW beat Duanesburg and Mayfield, and lost to Galway, St. Johnsville, Spa Catholic, Schoharie, and Canajoharie.
On Tuesday against Middleburgh, senior Maclin Norray drove in two runs in the first inning with a deep double to right field. Norray was pitching the game as well, and Goebel says he has made impressive strides from last year.
“His fastball has more pop, and he has a better curveball,” said Goebel of Norray. “He’s a big, strong guy that has developed a lot.”
Norray was an All-Star soccer and basketball player for BKW this year, and Goebel said that his baseball teammates call him by the nickname of “Big Smooth.”
“It’s like, ‘Hey, man, let’s go play some chess,’ and he’ll win the game,” Goebel went on about Norray. “You can throw any task at him and he’ll do well. He’s the jack of all trades.”
Jack Hurst, a left-handed pitcher for BKW, has a tail to his pitches, Goebel said, and he throws a splitfinger. Hurst threw seven innings against Mayfield, and he wanted to pitch into extra innings, but Goebel had to take the baseball away from him, he said.
“He’s an open book, always listening, so he just eats everything up,” said Goebel of Hurst. “As a coach, you love that; the kid goes out there to battle.”
The Bulldogs’ third starting pitcher is Justin Lee, who has a “ridiculous” curveball, Goebel said. “He has perfect form, even though he didn’t pitch for us much last year.”
Goebel knows that it is a cliché for him to say that he loves his baseball team, but, he said, “It’s true.”
“This is a close knit team, and they’re always trying to learn something new,” Goebel added.
BKW fell short of the playoffs last year — teams are required to win eight games — but, since the WAC is a level playing field this season, Goebel said, the Bulldogs know that they can make sectionals in 2014.
“There’s no ‘if’ because we’re getting there,” said Goebel. “In this league, you bring your best or get beaten. We always have a fight on our hands.”