Guilderland baseball washed out by Niskayuna
The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael
A steady rain fell during Guilderland’s home baseball game last Friday against Niskayuna, and the contest was eventually called in the bottom of the fifth inning. Play resumed on Saturday, and the Dutch lost, 14 to 8. Here, Alex Varsanyi throws a pitch for Guilderland on Friday.
GUILDERLAND — A steady rain had been falling for the entirety of last Friday’s baseball game between Guilderland and Niskayuna, and, by the time the bottom of the fifth inning came around, there was a sense that the game might be called. The infield dirt was dark and saturated, players’ jerseys were soaked, and fans seemed anxious.
After Niskayuna pitcher Tommy Favata — he threw an impressive game amidst all the wetness — got Guilderland’s Ben Govel to strike out on a high fastball, the Warriors needed just two more outs to make the game official.
Niskayuna pulled Favata for a new pitcher with one out, Guilderland’s Zach Formica at second base, and a 10-to-5 lead in the bottom of the fifth. The break in play gave the umpires and coaches a chance to assess the weather situation; Dutch Head Coach Doug LaValley and Warriors Head Coach John Furey talked for several minutes with the two umpires.
The rain started to dissipate to not much more than a mist, but puddles had already started to form on the pitching mound.
Even though Niskayuna needed only two more outs for an official victory, the game was postponed to Saturday at 3 p.m. Some players moaned and groaned, and some Niskayuna parents made sure to give the umpires a piece of their minds while they walked off the field.
Overall, there was an uncomfortable feeling of dread as both Guilderland and Niskayuna packed up and shipped out.
“He wanted to get two more outs, and I get it,” LaValley said of Furey and Niskayuna. “Obviously, the field is unplayable. It’s part of baseball.”
The Warriors completed the win on Saturday, 14 to 8. Tommy Spataro had three singles and three runs scored, and Mike Lanory had two singles and 4 RBIs for Niskayuna.
First and foremost, LaValley said after the game was called last Friday, “we’re here for the kids, and we don’t want anyone getting hurt.” Although, he could understand why Niskayuna wanted to finish the game.
“We want to make sure the kids are safe,” LaValley reiterated.
Guilderland (0-2) had a productive start to the game last Friday, scoring five runs in the first inning. Some Niskayuna errors gave the Dutch extra base runners, and Evan Sanders hit a three-run home run.
After that, Favata settled down, and started to find location with his pitches as the Warriors’ offense came through in the third inning. Pat O’Brien drove in a run with a single, and Lanory’s grounder up the middle bounced past a diving Jacob Sturn at shortstop, scoring two runs, and closing the Dutchmen’s lead to 5 to 3.
Guilderland’s pitching took a turn for the worse in the top of the fourth inning; there was no consistency. The Dutch made two pitching changes during the inning — Zach Malitz replaced Alex Varsanyi and Nick Sprio relieved Malitz — as Niskayuna seemed to have the bases loaded forever.
The Warriors scored six runs with one out to take a 9-to-5 lead. Guilderland walked five batters in the fourth inning, and gave up two runs on two consecutive wild pitches by Sprio.
Earlier in the inning, Ryan Feeney hit a tall fly ball to deep left centerfield, and Govel looked to have a bead on it to make the catch, but the ball sailed and hit the ground as a runner crossed the plate.
As Guilderland’s pitching woes continued, LaValley could do no more than shake his head.
“It’s about throwing strikes, making those pitches, and making those plays,” said LaValley after the game was called. “We didn’t do either of those in that [fourth] inning.”
LaValley told The Enterprise that he wasn’t too concerned with Guilderland’s pitching this season because it’s one of the team’s strengths. “We’ll deal with it,” he said.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Favata got Brandon Das and Sturn to strike out; Favata had his stuff working well.
The Dutchmen saw its early lead evaporate, and the miserable weather could only exacerbate the mood. Baseball in the rain is never a fun time.
“You have to be able to grip the baseball, and, once things start going bad, you start losing confidence,” said LaValley. “You have to have confidence out there.”