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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, March 24, 2011

Dutchmen baseball reloads, knows destination

By Jordan J. Michael

GUILDERLAND –– After reaching the state finals for baseball in Binghamton last year, Dutchmen Head Coach Doug LaValley knows that an experience like that could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But the players in 2011 are prepared to make another try.

“These guys learned that baseball is all about the ‘ultimate game,’” LaValley said at indoor practice on Tuesday evening, giving directions from a black office chair. “They want to get back to that point and they’re willing to make sacrifices.”

Guilderland has 15 players returning, 10 of those as seniors, who were with the team during its amazing run to Binghamton last season. However, the entire starting infield has moved on, including Matt Zanotta, who broke the single-season record for homeruns in Section II.

“Other teams want to know what we’ll be doing this season without Zanotta and all those guys,” said senior Co-Captain Vinny Tamburello, a top pitcher for the Dutch. “The target is on our back. People want to know if we’ll be good or not.”

There’s no telling how good Guilderland will or won’t be until the team gets through April, but the line up will certainly be different. “The experience will be missed,” LaValley said of the players who moved on. “But the others understand the process.”

Filling the infield positions will be seniors Andrew Faragon (catcher) and Conor Hurley (third base), and juniors Tim O’Connor (short-stop), Mike Doynow (second base), and Eric Golderman (first base).

But LaValley said that he had more “options” he could mix around.

“It’s a new and improved infield,” said senior Harry Brodsky, the other co-captain who will start in center field. “They’re not as powerful, but they have soft hands. They’re not afraid to step up.”

Tamburello told The Enterprise that Doynow and O’Connor have been an infield tandem since Little League, so the communication should be good. “We have five different guys that can play first base,” Tamburello said.

As for the outfield, Tamburello said it was “solid” and that the players had “too much speed.”

LaValley pointed to speed as the main strength for the Dutch, as well as defense and pitching. “We’re very athletic,” he said. “I don’t think we’ll score as many runs, but we’ll adjust and handle what we’ve got here.”

Guilderland is reloading and LaValley is teaching the Dutchmen brand, something he likes to call “pressure baseball.” Guilderland uses plenty of running and motion on offense to make the opponents’ defense react in different ways.

“It’s back to the basics,” Brodsky said. “We have overall talent and speed, so I think we should be fine.”

The Dutch will have three left-handed starting pitchers –– Tamburello, Chris Gareau, and Dylan Collett. Tamburello tricked batters for the entire 2010 post-season, and Gareau had a near no-hitter against Averill Park. Adam Gersowitz, Zachary Kronick, Brett MacNeil, Matt Trestick, Mike Valletta, and Tyler Warchol will also throw some innings this season.

“We have plenty of arms,” LaValley said. “I’ve never had three lefty starters at once before. It brings uniqueness to our team.”

Guilderland will again face a grueling Suburban Council schedule, playing Colonie, Shaker, Averill Park, Burnt Hills, Niskayuna, Shenendehowa, Saratoga, Columbia, and Bethlehem. “It’s very tough,” said LaValley. “Up and down.”

After going through the process last season, LaValley thinks that getting out of the Suburban Council and sectionals is actually harder than any of the remaining rounds in regional play. “Getting through sectionals is the ultimate goal,” he said.

The Dutchmen will start the 2011 season with its annual trip to Millville, N.J. this weekend where the team will play four scrimmages. The official season starts on April 4 at Mohonasen, and Guilderland will be the first to play under the newly lighted Dutchmen Field at Keenholts Park on April 15 against Massapequa.

The Millville excursion is used to “work off some rust,” LaValley said, but also for team bonding. “They’re already friends, but we really stress the whole family thing,” he said.

Guilderland knows its destination after challenging for a Class AA state championship last year, but every season comes with a new map and new directions. “It’s nice to know where the destination is, but you have to find a way there,” said LaValley.

“We’re keeping the same attitude,” Tamburello said. “No change, except for a few secret plays maybe.”

Suburban Council opponents might be throwing all sorts of opinions around, but that doesn’t bother Brodsky and his Dutchmen teammates.

“We’re just going to be the team we are and play some baseball,” Brodsky said.

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