By ADAM SHINDER
Recorder Sports Staff
A win away from a New York District 5 Junior American Legion championship, Mother Nature went and hit the pause button on the Amsterdam Post 701 baseball team.
Hoping to lock up a tournament championship Monday at SUNYIT in Utica against William Russell Post 404 of Vernon, Post 701 entered the championship round undefeated in the double-elimination tournament and needed just one win to capture the title, while Post 404 needed to win two straight games to advance out of District 5.
Then the rain came, and any chance of either team celebrating a championship Monday went out the window. Post 701 was trailing 6-1 after two innings of the first game, which will be resumed today at 3 p.m. at SUNYIT, with a second game to follow if necessary.
"You get out there, the kids are all pumped up for the game, then thunder comes and we got delayed," said Post 701 head coach Bill Agresta. "Then we took the tarp off and it thundered again, so that delayed it another half-hour. We took the tarp off and put it back on four times, and finally the umpire said, 'We'll just call the game and come back (Wednesday).'"
When the game does resume, Post 701 will be looking to continue a nine-game winning streak that was added to over the weekend in the early stages of the tournament with a 13-12 victory over Whitestown Post 1113 and a 10-3 triumph over New Hartford Post 1376 that put Amsterdam on the verge of a District 5 championship in the team's return to play after having not fielded a team since 2008.
That nine-game run has been fueled by a late-season surge at the plate, as the club has put up 84 runs during that stretch.
"The kids are hitting the ball. Jake Rodecker's really coming on, Brandon Baker, Ben Rhodes -- everybody's hitting the ball," Agresta said.
That hitting was put to the test in the tournament opener against Whitestown Post 1113, as Post 701 needed all 13 of its runs to ward off a late rally in the rain.
"We were up seven runs going into the last inning, and it started to pour," Agresta said. "Our pitcher couldn't really grip the ball good, so he had some walks. He got frustrated, and I had to take him out and put Kevin Myers in to close it out. They had the tying run on third base and the winning run on second."
After surviving that ordeal and following it up by beating Post 1376 for the third time in less than a week, Post 701 was matched up with a Post 404 team that Amsterdam hasn't seen since the two teams split a doubleheader at Shuttleworth Park to open the regular season in early June.
And while Post 404 is the top seed in the tournament and will head into the resumption of today's game nursing an early 6-1 lead, Agresta said he's confident, as even if Post 701 is forced to a deciding game, several key pitchers will be available for that contest.
"That should work out good for us, because if we lose the first game, all of our pitching will reset," he said. "That'll be a good thing for us, because we're kind of running low on pitching. Baylee Hall hurt his arm -- he was pitching the first game and pulled something in his arm -- so we're kind of scrambling, and Tyler Graham has a blister on his finger, so he couldn't throw. This has given us some time to heal up a little bit, hopefully."