2012-05-30 / Sports

SECTION ONE CHAMPS: Haldane Beats Tuckahoe!

Baseball team wins, 7-4, at Dutchess Stadium
By Stephen Schweikhart

The Haldane varsity baseball team beat Tuckahoe on Wednesday, 7-4, in a late-afternoon game at Dutchess Stadium,  to capture the Section One championship. The victory is vindication for a loss to the same team exactly one year ago.

The Blue Devils play next at 4 p.m. Monday at Pace University, though the opponent isn't known yet. More background on the Blue Devils' path to the playoffs is below.

Earlier story, from Wednesday's PCN&R:

Haldane Rolls to Sectional Final

Baseball team’s rout of Palisades Prep sets up rematch with Tuckahoe

Though coach Tom Virgadamo and his players would never have admitted it publicly, last week’s rain-delayed sectional match up with Palisades Prep was set up to be a mere speed bump on the way to the Class C Section 1 Championship game. After winning pitcher Dan Kinnaird and reliever Ryan Koval proceeded to fan 16 Phoenix batters and the Blue Devils cruised to a 12-0 win, every Blue Devil could now concentrate on the one school they have wanted to face for the last twelve months - Tuckahoe.

Drew Ford was one of ten Blue Devils to grab All League honors. 
Stephen Schweikhart Drew Ford was one of ten Blue Devils to grab All League honors. Stephen Schweikhart

On Wednesday, June 1, 2011, Tuckahoe edged the Blue Devils 4-3 for last year’s Class C title. Today, Wednesday, May 30, 2012, gives us the rematch. At 4pm, the Tigers and the Blue Devils will take the field at Dutchess Stadium to once again determine Class C supremacy, this time with the Blue Devils as the top seed.

The Blue Devils have played 19 games since that heartbreaking loss to the Tigers, and have won 16 of the them. They have routed teams they were expected to, beaten teams that may have been better on paper, and played powerhouses tough - all as a prelude to today’s final, and a match up with their most bitter rival. Tuckahoe enters the game with a 13-8 record, having eliminated Solomon Schechter in the semi-finals 5-2. But don’t let the modest record fool you. They are the reigning state champs and will have a key player heading to the mound in LJ Gallo.

“Gallo is tough, but we have seen good pitching all year,” coach Tom Virgadamo noted this past weekend. “We have to do what we do best and play Haldane baseball, hit our spots from the mound, play great defense, communicate, and get the big hit when needed at the dish. I expect nothing less than a battle.”

Virgadamo hopes his team can draw from all the positives the Blue Devils accumulated during the course of their unbeaten league season and impressive 16-3 overall record. The starting pitching has been strong all year, and the hits have been timely. Now, it is up to the Blue Devils to continue to play the same solid baseball that has carried them this far. “We are looking forward to Wednesday,” Virgadamo continued. “Our guys have accomplished every goal this season except one - win the sectional title. Haldane and Tuckahoe have been rivals for decades and every time we match up with them it comes down to timely hitting and who makes the least amount of errors. We must treat it like any other game we have played this year and hope we come out on top.”

If the Blue Devils do indeed come out on top, it would be first time in last nine years that Haldane’s baseball team has grabbed a sectional title. It would be the first ever for the team in Class C.

The win over Palisades Prep went pretty much as expected, as the Phoenix batters were no match for Kinnaird and Koval. At the plate, Dima Spinelli went 2 for 4 with two RBIs, 2 runs scored and 2 stolen bases, while John Rotando had a three run triple in the 5th inning. “Overall I was pleased with our effort and error free baseball,” Virgadamo said in summing up the win. “Our offense struggled, but we managed to put the ball in play.”

The day after the win over Palisades Prep, the Blue Devils were back on the diamond, scrimmaging crossriver rival Marlboro. It was something Virgadamo felt his team needed as the Phoenix provided little resistance in the semi final match up. “I was overly impressed during our scrimmage against Marlboro,” Virgadamo said. “Everyone seemed to hit the ball extremely well.” The Blue Devils’ bats will need to find a way to solve the hard-throwing Gallo in order to raise a trophy they haven’t held in almost a decade, and in the process, dethrone the state champs.

Baseball Team Racks Up Honors

Fresh off a 7-0 league season, ten Blue Devils were named to league all star squads. Justin Kaufmann and Dima Spinelli earned nods to the Honorable Mention team, while Matt Forlow, Kenny Doxey, Stephen Zalys, John Rotando, Andrew Balducci, Ryan Koval, Dan Kinnaird and Drew Ford grabbed All League honors. Forlow was named league most valuable player and Kinnaird was named the league’s outstanding pitcher.

Forlow and Zalys were also named to the All Section squad.

Coach Tom Virgadamo was named league Coach of the Year, and the Dutchess County Small School Coach of the Year. It was the second time in the last four years Virgadamo has collected both awards.

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