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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 30, 2009

The Knights prevail on big stage in Buffalo

By Jordan J. Michael

Never vote against the underdog. Those teams always find a way to win.

The New York Capital District Knights travel baseball team for 15-year-olds isn’t usually an underdog in its Eastern New York Travel Baseball league, but definitely was in Buffalo from July 16 to 19 for the Second Annual New Era Cap Classic tournament that featured 31 elite teams from around the United States and Canada.

The Knights played flawless baseball and ended up winning the whole tournament after playing three highly contested games on July 19. The team only had one error in five games.

“We played all these nationally ranked teams, so we deserve a lot of credit for beating those teams,” said Knights Manager Tom Greco. “We played excellent defense behind great pitching and the offense was explosive and clutch. I’ve never seen them play so well.”

The Knights started out some years ago as a Guilderland and Voorheesville all-star team, but now has players from around the Capital Region. Seven of the players on this summer’s 12-man roster are from Guilderland and Voorheesville.

“We seek kids that want to play at a higher level,” Greco said. “We look for hard work and dedication to the game. These kids have been playing baseball with each other since Little League. The chemistry is really, really good. They enjoy the high level of competition.”

“These kids have been winners since Little League and it all culminated in Buffalo,” said Coach Joe Chiseri. “The tournament was a fun experience, but it was also a way for this team to prove themselves as an elite club.”

How it

went down

The Knights got off to a good start in its first game with a 7-to-0 lead after three innings, but the rains came and cancelled the game. Rain continued to fall, canceling the second game for the Knights as well.

The next game was against the Orange County Warriors and the Knights’ offense was eager to pick up where it left off before the rain.

Louis Greco (Guilderland) hit a two-run homerun and that was followed by an eight run fourth inning. The scoring spree was due to triples by Mike Cheseri (Voorheesville) and Joe Marino, as well as doubles by Adam Gersowitz (Guilderland), Ryan Orsini (Guilderland), and Colin McVee (Voorheesville).

Centerfielder McVee had the highlight of the game against the Warriors when he made a diving catch to double off a runner at second base. Chris Zoas and Marino pitched the 12-to-4 win.

The following game for the Knights was against the Toronto-based Whitby Warriors and the Knights pounded the Warriors, 14-1. Mike Urbanski (Guilderland) and Jeremy Fink each had a two-run triple and Devin Fisher (Guilderland) had a two-run double. The Knights ended up scoring nine runs in one inning.

The Knights had two impressive opening games and that garnered the team a seventh seed for Sunday’s playoffs.

“We played 24 innings of baseball on Sunday,” Joe Cheseri said. “That’s a ridiculous amount of baseball, even for major leaguers. It was a matter of survival of the fittest.”

The first playoff game for the Knights was at 8 a.m. against the second-seeded New Era-sponsored travel team. Urbanski pitched five scoreless innings and Louis Greco hit his second two-run homerun of the tournament to give the Knights a 2-to-0 lead.

The Knights increased the lead to 3 to 0 only to have New Era tie the game in the sixth inning. The contest ended up going 10 innings and the Knights pulled out the victory, 4-3. Marino and Orsini pitched scoreless relief and again the Knights’ defense had no errors.

“My players could have put their heads down when New Era tied it up, but they rode it all the way to the tenth,” said Tom Greco. “Once we beat them, we knew that this tournament was ours for the taking.”

Greco told The Enterprise that the New Era team was so impressed with the Knights that they stayed around to watch the next two games.

“The coach from New Era told me that it was the best game they could have played,” Greco said. “They were quite shocked that they lost. New Era took their hats off to us after we won the tournament.”

The Connecticut Titans were the Knights’ next victim on the final day. Chris Zoas pitched six strong innings and allowed three runs. In the final inning, the Titans had the tying run on second base with two outs. Peter Russo made a sliding catch for the Knights in right field to secure the 4-to-3 win and a spot in the final.

“You could feel the excitement building from game to game,” said Joe Chiseri. “It was really fun to watch these kids play their hearts out.”

Becoming champions

The Knights faced the Southern Dutchess Lightning at the Buffalo Bisons AAA Coca-Cola Stadium at 6 p.m. Orsini was on the mound for the Knights.

The Lightning tried to run on the Knights in the first inning, but catcher Mike Chiseri nailed the runner with a perfect throw to second. Louis Greco drove the ball to deep left center for a double in the fourth inning and that was followed by runs batted in by Urbanski and Zoas. The Knights were up, 2-0.

Orsini didn’t need much offensive help because he pitched a two-hit shutout through six-and-one-third innings. The Knights brought in Marino with one out in the seventh to close the game. Marino struck the last two Lightning hitters out for the championship.

“This all started in Mystic, Connecticut during July 4 weekend when we finished second out of 13 teams,” Tom Greco said. “My players all have the same goal of playing well enough as a team to win.”

After the win in Buffalo, the team finished its season with three wins in Troy this past weekend. Manager Greco and Coach Chiseri hope that all the players come back for fall baseball.

“Once you play for the Knights, you’re always welcome back,” said Chiseri. “We hope they all come back.”

“I’m very proud of what my team achieved this summer,” Greco said. “Our goal was to win the tournament in Buffalo. It’s very humbling to reach a goal of that stature.”

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