And down the stretch they come.
After a confusing, rain-riddled regular season, we've finally hit the final week, and just a week out from the Section II baseball seeding meeting, there's still a frightening amount of work to be done.
With most teams rescheduling their early rainouts for the end of the season, this week will feature teams heading to a whirlwind finish -- no team moreso than the Amsterdam Rams, who, starting with today's 4:30 p.m. home game against Catholic Central, will end the regular season with six games in seven days.
For the Rams, that's both a blessing and a curse. It's a chance for Amsterdam to make a serious case for a top-four seed in the Section II Class A playoffs, but it'll test head coach Brian Spagnola's pitching depth.
As of this moment, Amsterdam (9-5, 7-5 Big 10) is in the conversation for a high seed in Class A with the likes of Troy, Queensbury, Scotia-Glenville, Catholic Central and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake. If the Rams can close the regular season with at least four wins this week, I see them opening the playoffs at Shuttleworth Park.
Here's a look what a few other local teams are facing as they head into the stretch run:
* The Broadalbin-Perth Patriots have the toughest job, still needing at least one league win to qualify for the Section II Class BB playoffs. They'll have two chances, today and Wednesday against Gloversville, a team that beat B-P when they met in the consolation game of Gloversville's tournament last month.
* The Fort Plain Hilltoppers are 12-0 on the season and 11-0 in Western Athletic Conference play heading into tonight's doubleheader at Saratoga Central Catholic to decide the WAC crown. A split or better and wins over Galway and Berne-Knox-Westerlo to end the season could be enough to give Fort Plain the top seed in Class C.
* The Fonda-Fultonville Braves wrapped up sectional qualification last week, and this week gives coach Rick Palumbo's team a chance to build its resume against a brutal schedule -- home today against Schalmont, Wednesday at Albany Academy, and home Thursday against Voorheesville.
* The Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville Wolves finish their WAC schedule with games against Canajoharie and Mayfield, which will go a long way toward giving them a leg up in what should be a mess of a seeding process for Class D, thanks to weather issues knocking out almost all of April for Adirondack League clubs like defending state champion Fort Ann.
The New York state record for career high school baseball coaching wins is in a total state of flux.
In recent weeks, Fort Plain's Craig Phillips and Eastchester's Dom Cecere both passed the former mark of 705 wins held by Bishop Kearney's Ed Nieptoski. As of Friday, both Phillips and Cecere were tied with 708 wins, though with busy schedules in the last week of the season and sectional playoff runs, the record could shuttle back and forth numerous times before the end of the year.
Fort Plain has four games on tap this week -- today's doubleheader at Spa Catholic, Wednesday at Galway and Thursday against Berne-Knox-Westerlo at Phillips Field.
Team of the week: Fonda-Fultonville. A case could certainly be made for Fort Plain, as the Hilltoppers went 4-0 last week to improve to 12-0 overall, but the Braves also went undefeated, winning three games to lock up a spot in the Section II Class B playoffs.
Player of the week: Kiernan Briggs, Fort Plain. The sophomore shortstop went 7-for-15 at the plate with two triples, six runs batted sin, five runs scored and four stolen bases. After starting the season 4-for-19 at the plate, Briggs is riding a six-game hit streak that's upped his batting average to .325.
Pitcher of the week: Julian Gallup, Amsterdam. Hard to knock the senior lefty out of this spot after his six-hit shutout in the Rams' 3-0 win over Christian Brothers Academy in the first game on the turf at Shuttleworth Park. Honorable mention to Broadalbin-Perth's Logan DeNeuville, who allowed just one hit and struck out 16 in a non-league win over Mayfield.
Game of the week: Johnstown 10, Broadalbin-Perth 8. One of three straight dramatic games for the Patriots, this was a wild slugfest that went back and forth before Johnstown scored two runs on an error in the bottom of the sixth inning to take the lead after B-P's Joe Zarecki had doubled twice and drove in five runs to put his team in front.
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