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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 30, 2009

Geist and Church end season with trip to New Jersey

By Jordan J. Michael

Playing baseball in the off-season gives players a better opportunity to maybe some day play in college. Ben Geist of Berne and Nico Church of Voorheesville are two 14-year-olds who know all about that.

Both Geist and Church were fresh off time with their respective high-school varsity teams this spring. They earned a spot on varsity by working hard in the off-season.

“Geist and Church have been playing baseball together since they were 7 years old,” said Greenfield Center Yellowjackets Coach Don Bullard, the team that Geist spent this summer with in the Eastern New York Travel Baseball League. “They are both fine players, indeed.”

Church played for the South Troy Dodgers all summer until the Yellowjackets drafted him for the teams’ trip to New Jersey for the American Amatuer Baseball Congress Regionals from July 18 to 21. Greenfield moved on after winning the New York State title.

“A team in our league is able to draft a couple of players after they win the title to bring to the next level,” Bullard said. “Geist strongly suggested drafting Church because they’re friends and also because he’s got some talent.”

The Yellowjackets went 2-2 in the regionals with wins against the Waldwick Warriors and the Westside Warriors. The Yellowjackets lost to the Livingston Knights and the Overlook Black Sox.

Church had two home runs, two doubles, and two singles in the four games in New Jersey. “It was nice to play with Geist again and I fit in pretty easily,” said Church. “Having these experiences really gets me ready for the next level.

“It’s cool to go down and play on a big stage like that, but it’s weird because you have no idea what to expect,” said Geist. “You want to win every game, but it’s nice just to be there.”

Geist joined Greenfield this year after playing with many of the kids on a team from Waterford when he was 11. He pitched, played first base, and batted clean-up for the Yellowjackets.

Bullard told The Enterprise that Geist led the team in many categories, but the amazing stat was his .491 batting average to end the season. “Geist spends a lot of time working on his hitting and pitching,” said Bullard. “He had luck with the bat.”

“It was fun to be able to hit like that because I get upset when I don’t hit,” Geist said. “I was hitting around .500 all season and then it dropped a little at the end.”

“It’s not a surprise to see these 14-year-olds on a varsity team,” said Bullard. “The whole point is for the players to see the best competition in the Northeast. It’s good to get the kids away from the backyard to see where they stand.”

Church and Geist will be important pieces for the Blackbirds and the Bulldogs next spring. “If they keep up the good work, then they’ll both be playing somewhere in college for sure,” Bullard said.

“I got two varsity at bats last season and I went two for two,” said Geist. “But .491 probably isn’t a realistic figure for varsity baseball.”

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