Voorheesville baseball is “reeling right now,” coach says

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

What’s out there? Some Voorheesville baseball players watch from the dugout last Friday, as the Blackbirds were up to bat against Albany Academy. Voorheesville has won the last two Class C titles, but will be playing in the Class B sectionals this year if it can get enough wins. The Birds were 5-7 in the league after losing to Albany Academy, 2 to 0.

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Hurler: Nick Chiseri throws a pitch — the ball is at top right — for Voorheesville during a game at Albany Academy last Friday. The Blackbirds (8-8) lost, 2 to 0, and Chiseri threw six innings with six strikeouts and one walk.

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Defending Section 2 champion Voorheesville dropped to 5-7 in the Colonial Council last Friday with a 2-to-0 loss at Albany Academy. Here, Kristian Singh takes a swing for the Birds.

ALBANY — In the fifth inning last Friday, Alex Minnick hit a ball for Voorheesville that seemed destined to land on the grass in short center field, but Albany Academy’s Eric Woods was charging hard. Woods made an amazing somersault catch for the out, and most of the people watching couldn’t believe what they’d seen.

Most notably, Minnick, who had seen this sort of thing happen already this season.

Baseball is a game of inches, and Voorheesville Head Coach Kyle Turski said after the 2-to-0 loss at Albany Academy that Minnick has hit five balls this season on which fielders have made unbelievable plays.

“When he came back to the dugout [after Woods’s catch] today, I was like, ‘Dude, I wouldn’t expect anything less by a defender on a ball that you hit,’” said Turski. “It’s been that kind of year for us.”

Last Friday’s loss dropped the two-time defending Section 2 champion Blackbirds to 5-7 in the Colonial Council and 8-8 overall. It was Voorheesville’s third defeat in a row, and maybe its sixth loss over the last seven games, Turski said.

The Blackbirds were 6-1 on April 24.

“We’re reeling right now,” said Turski. “We seem to string hits together with two outs; we can’t get anything going early in the game. Honestly, it seems like any hard ball we do hit gets caught.”

Turski said that he has probably told The Enterprise this many times, but, “Again, that’s baseball.”

With Friday’s game scoreless in the fourth inning, Kristian Singh singled for Voorheesville, but then Albany Academy’s pitcher, Brooks Knapek, got Jared Paigo to pop out, and got Dalton Esposito to ground into a double play.

“Knapek has pitched all the important games,” said Academy Head Coach Dave Ryder. Voorheesville beat his team at the beginning of the season after the Cadets had been ahead, 6 to 2. “As we’ve gone along, we’ve learned to play solid defense,” he said. “It’s important.”

Albany Academy scored its two runs in the fourth inning with Nick Chiseri on the mound for Voorheesville. Sean Dempsey singled, Trevor Francesconi doubled to left field, and Dempsey scored from third base on Rory Flaherty’s ground out.

Next, Nolan Duda hit a slow roller towards shortstop, but Mike Hennessy didn’t charge the ball swiftly enough for the Birds; he was forced to hurry a throw to first base and the throw went high, allowing Francesconi to score.

“They’re a fundamentally sound team that puts the bat on the ball at the right time,” Turski said of the Cadets. “We make great pitches and great plays, but the other team finds a way to win the game.”

After Alex Giordano struck out and Hennessy grounded out in the sixth inning for Voorheesville, David Cardona and Singh both reached base with singles. However, Paigo grounded out to third base.

Turski was wondering how the Blackbirds were going to “figure it out” and “scratch some runs across” as he walked towards the bus after Friday’s loss. “We’ve scored no more than a handful of runs in a handful of games,” he added.

In the seventh inning, Esposito and Joe Guerette got on base with singles, and that prompted Academy to switch pitchers; Francesconi relieved Knapek. Francesconi was throwing heat, and he made the remaining Voorheesville batters look somewhat foolish as he forced two strikeouts and a ground out to finish the game.

The Blackbirds had been facing a left-handed pitcher for the whole game; Francesconi threw right-handed. “He kept them off balance,” Ryder said.

Since Voorheesville had success in the first half of the season, Turski said that it could have been smoke and mirrors. The Birds share its Colonial Council division with Academy, Schalmont, and Fonda; all four of those teams usually make the playoffs.

“We faced some teams at the right time, early on,” said Turski. “We were drawing a lot of walks, getting guys on base, and getting clutch hits. Lately, we can’t get much going.”

Friday was tough because four players were missing from the Voorheesville roster. The coach said he thought it was because of exams. The athletic director, Joe Sapienza, referred questions about the absences to the superintendent, Teresa Thayer Snyder, who cited the district’s code of conduct.

“We don’t discuss student discipline,” she said. “Foolish errors have been notoriously made by high school students.”

Thayer Snyder added that all students are held to high standards at Voorheesville, athletes or not. 

“It’s a really tough division to get through,” Ryder said. “It does prepare you well.”

Typically, a Section 2 baseball team needs eight league wins to make the postseason, but, with the way Class B is lining up this year, Turski said, Voorheesville should be able to qualify with seven league wins. The Blackbirds have won two consecutive Class C titles, and made the state semifinals both times.

“We’re definitely going back,” said Turski last Friday of making the playoffs. “There’s only one way to guarantee it, and that’s by winning two more. If we get there, then we know we can win like we have over the past few years.”

Voorheesville traveled to Watervliet on Monday, and won, 5 to 0. The Birds hosted first-place Schalmont on Wednesday, and plays its final regular season game at Fonda today.

Turski says he’s trying to look on the bright side because Voorheesville has had difficulty with Colonial Council opponents in previous seasons leading up to its eventual title runs. However, Class B has more Colonial Council teams than Class C.

“We’ve struggled from middle to end, but we’re always able to put it together at the right time,” said Turski. “We should expect similar results this time.”

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