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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 17, 2008

Guilderland Bulldogs win district tournament

GUILDERLAND — The Guilderland Bulldogs battled their way to become champs in the Babe Ruth Central District 14-Year-Old All-Star Tournament.  The team will now move on to the state regional tournament.

This year, Guilderland hosted the tournament at Tawasentha Park and Dutchmen Field. The team came out of the gate quickly in its first game on July 5 against Rotterdam with Guilderland winning, 6-3. 

Tim O’Connor was given the nod on the mound and pitched a complete-game gem for the Bulldogs on only 96 pitches. 

The offense for Guilderland came out swinging as Matt Sand’s first swing sent the ball well over the centerfield fence, Ryan Smith singled, and Tyler Hynes doubled him home. 

In the third, Brett McNeil doubled to bring in Smith and Hynes who both doubled.  In the fifth frame, after O’Connor singled and stole second, centerfielder Ryan Smith belted a bomb of his own to bring Guilderland’s tally to six runs. 

The Bulldogs who usually play tight defense kept true to form by making solid plays in the field including a run-down out between home and third, another run-down out between second and third, and several tough grounders for outs to Matt Sand at third. 

Trouncing Colonie

Game two on July 6 pitted Guilderland against Colonie. 

In this game, the Bulldogs used four pitchers to notch the win with Matt Bretton throwing four crafty innings to start the game.  Michael Valetta came on to pitch in the fourth to keep Colonie at bay. Brett McNeil and Tyler Hynes finished the job in the sixth and seventh innings respectively.

Again Guilderland jumped into the lead with five runs in the first two innings.  Left fielder John Evans started a long rally on a single down the third-base line, Matt Bretton walked, catcher Ryan Ghizzoni walked, and Tim O’Connor who was down 0 and 2 ended up walking. 

Matt Bretton displayed his speed and helped his cause by stealing home.  In the fourth, Guilderland sustained another rally when first baseman Anthony Scaccia hustled to first to beat out a close infield play. Evans again singled over the third baseman’s head and Michael Valetta slammed a double to right to bring in two more runs.

Every time Colonie threatened to make the game interesting, the Bulldogs answered with stellar defense.

In the third, with bases loaded for Colonie, second baseman Tyler Hynes made an over-the-shoulder catch in shallow and doubled up the runner at first to end the inning.  In the fifth inning, again with bases loaded, Matt Sand handled a tough grounder, stepped on third, and rifled the ball to Scaccia at first for the double play to end the inning. 

And finally, in the last inning with bases loaded and the score 12-10 in favor of Guilderland, right fielder Brett McNeil caught a shallow fly ball and came up throwing a rope to Ghizzoni at home who began a run down that ended the game.

Besting Albany Central

On July 9, Guilderland found a tough opponent in Albany Central. 

Again four pitchers, — Hynes, Bretton, Valetta, and O’Connor — were needed to complete the 7-5 win. 

Lead-off man Ghizzoni began the day with a double and a steal and scored on an O’Connor single.  Matt Sand highlighted the inning with his second home run of the tournament. 

John Evans in the third inning reached first with all-out hustle, getting to first, stealing second and third bases, and eventually scored — all with two outs.

Defensive highlights included right fielder Brett McNeil’s diving catch, several clutch plays by Sand at third, left fielder Jake Nussbaum’s hustle to hold a sure double to a single in the fifth, and Anthony Scaccia’s hot hopper at first to end the game.

Socking Sorensco and Schenectady

The Bulldogs’ first opponent on July 10 was Sorensco. 

Michael Valetta pitched six outstanding innings for Guilderland and Brett McNeil came in to close the 19-4 victory. 

For the third game of the tournament, Matt Sand hit a homer in his first at bat.  Things only got better from there as Hynes and McNeil also homered, and shortstop Tim O’Connor and outfielder Jake Nussbaum batted 1.000 on the day.

Guilderland notched its fifth win against Schenectady, 13-4, in the semifinals of tournament play.  Matt Bretton was given the ball and kept Schenectady off balance through six innings. 

Closer Brett McNeil finished the job for his second save in two days.  The corners were hot defensively for the Bulldogs as Matt Sand at third and Anthony Scaccia at first made every play sent their way.  Both were also responsible for five of their team’s 13 runs on the afternoon.  Outfielders John Evans and Ryan Smith each had timely hits to keep rallies going for the boys from Guilderland. 

Bulldogs pull out championship win

The win sent the Bulldogs to the finals of the tournament against familiar foe Colonie for the championship game on July 12.

Both teams knew this was going to be a tough game, and it ended up being a barnburner. 

Tim O’Connor, Guilderland’s ace, was once again called upon to take the mound.  O’Connor was helped defensively by his outfield as John Evans in left field who tracked a shallow fly ball and Brett McNeil made a sliding catch near the right field foul line. 

The Bulldogs jumped in front in the first as Ryan Ghizzoni led the game off with a walk and O’Connor singled.  With two outs, Coach Bob Ghizzoni gave the double-steal sign and rattled Colonie.  An error cost Colonie a run and then another as Hynes reached first on an errant throw to score O’Connor. 

In the second inning, the defense was again on display for the Bulldogs as John Evans made an ESPN highlight catch against the left-field fence, Matt Sand charged a slow grounder at third, and Tyler Hynes showed range at short with a grounder in the hole for the throw out. 

Guilderland kept the shutout alive in the third as Matt Sand handled a grounder and threw to Matt Bretton at second. Centerfielder Ryan Smith tracked a long fly ball and Anthony Scaccia caught a pop up for out number three. 

In the fourth inning, Colonie came back to take the lead with a three run rally despite nice plays by Smith and Bretton, and a pick-off play at second base by O’Connor to get the Colonie player in a run down for the final out of the inning. 

Colonie scored another run in the fifth and one more in the sixth on a suicide-squeeze.  The inning ended thanks to a perfect throw to second by Ghizzoni to throw the runner out on an attempted steal.

Offensively in the sixth, Matt Sand hit his fourth home run of the tournament to make the score 5-3 going into the last inning. 

Colonie began the inning with a single.  Hynes notched the first out at short for the force at second.  Colonie singled again and had runners at the corners. 

On the next pitch, Colonie sent its first base runner half way.  Ghizzoni threw to Hynes who started the pickle by running the player back to first.  As the third base runner began to run home, Hynes threw back to Ghizzoni who completely blocked home plate and made the tag for out number two. 

Mike Valetta made easy work of a pop up to right for out number three.

Guilderland now trailed, 5-3, with last ups.  Anthony Scaccia took a hanging curve ball deep to right center for a long single.  Mike Valetta then hit a sharp line-drive just under the glove of Colonie’s second baseman.  A picture-perfect bunt by John Evans moved the runners over.  Matt Bretton had a tough at-bat and drew a walk. 

Ghizzoni popped out to center but the runners were unable to advance.  With two outs and bases loaded, Tim O’Connor had the most timely hit of the tournament with double that scored both Scaccia and Valetta to tie the game.  Not wanting to see Matt Sand hit home run number five, Colonie tried to pitch around him but ended up hitting the batter. 

Ryan Smith would end up being the last batter of the tournament and with bases loaded, two outs and the count full, Smith drew the walk to complete the dramatic win, and unlikely come-from-behind victory to become the Central District Babe Ruth 14-Year-Old Champions.

 Guilderland now moves onto the New York State Regional Tournament held this year in Clifton Park.  Play begins Friday, July 18.

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