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Thoughts, news and notes from the sports staff of The Saratogian newspaper, located in historic Saratoga Springs, New York. The gang in the corner office on Lake Avenue give you the post-game wrap-ups, news and notes from the games we cover and opinions about the sports we read about every day.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

An intern’s reaction to a local team’s run at the championship

Editor's note: Phil Forte is a UAlbany senior journalism student who spent the summer working as an intern in The Saratogian's Sports Department. As one of his last assignments, he covered the Saratoga Americans 11-U baseball team on their road to a state title.


I guess you could have called me the 11-U Saratoga Americans beat writer this week.

I’ve been following the Americans since last Tuesday (8/3), when their win over Northern Columbia sent them into a Section III Championship rematch against last year’s state champs, Rotterdam, the same team who eliminated the Americans’ hopes at a New York State title last year in the same Section III Championship game.

In this year’s Section III rematch, it was Saratoga who sent Rotterdam packing with an impressive, seven run, sixth inning comeback, capping a wild walk-off win.

The win gave the Americans, along with seven other New York little league teams, the opportunity to play at Twin Town Little League Complex in Troy for the highly-coveted New York State Little League title after competing in rounds of pool play.

The Americans made it all the way into the semifinals before being eliminated by a Staten Island team on Tuesday night. One more win would have sent them to the state championship, but as they say, all good things must come to an end.

Regardless of their elimination, the Saratoga Americans showed what it was like to play as a team, with respect and dignity for the game of baseball. The Americans, as well as their coaches and fan base, showed the class that most, if not all, the other teams in the tournament were lacking.

The Saratoga faithful stuck around when their team trailed by six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and rallied for a win, and they were there cheering on the Americans when the team fell to Staten Island by mercy rule on Tuesday night, applauding the team as they made their way off of the field.

It was the welcoming, anything-you-need attitude that brought me back each game, eager to cover the team and to cheer them on as well (but don’t tell my editor). It was a delight covering such a humble team and the team’s contributions made my job a heck of a lot easier, too. I have to thank the players, coaches and supporters as a whole for their generosity towards The Saratogian and our coverage, and for that you are all winners, regardless of what game you lost on Tuesday night.

Aside from the Americans, the overall quality of competition in the state tournament was phenomenal. The level of play seen at the 10 and 11-year-old age division blew my mind. There were kids laying down perfect, fundamental bunts and infielders turning double plays like it was practice. Never in my mind would I have thought 11-year-olds were capable of making such plays and understand the game of baseball so well.

Not only was the quality of play well above average, but the field conditions were as well. Twin Town Little League Complex had their own field maintenance crew, who wet, dragged and re-lined each field before and after each game. Even when it started to downpour on Monday night, the crew was quick to cover the mound and field with tarps.

Covering the Americans on their journey to the New York State Championship was nothing short of memorable and I am thankful for the opportunity to cover such a hard-working, committed organization. Best of luck to the Americans next year.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Stathead Matt's Picks for 08/07/2010

There are still a few hours until the first race, so I hope these are getting out to you in time. In the interest of time, here are the picks.

Race 1
1) Pistols at Dawn
2) Brother Bird
3) Lubango
4) Monsignor
5) Mad For Smarty

Race 2
1) Evenforever
2) Maloof Magic
3) Military Star
4) Naughty You

Race 3
1) Payout
2) Dougie
3) Hear the Footsteps
4) Western Connection
5) Dirt Track Demon

Race 4
1) Doctor Peach (Best Longshot Bet)
2) Jaguar Paw
3) Enclosure
4) Ae Pit
5) Just Hold On

Race 5
1) Counterspy
2) Montana Knight
3) Macho Joe
4) Where Is'em
5) Tocco d'Oro

Race 6
1) Thatcatismine
2) Favorite Hour
3) Justin Phillip
4) Tiz Blessed
5) Lemon Ghost

Race 7
1) African Diamond
2) Livin Large
3) Oskar Hval
4) Alcomatch
5) Missinglisalewis

Race 8
1) Snow Top Mountain
2) Ailalea
3) Barracks Road
4) Hyperlink
5) Sea Bond

Race 9
1) Franny Freud
2) Belle of the Hall
3) Pica Slew (Best Name)
4) Tidal Pool
5) Buckleupbuttercup

Race 10
1) Blame
2) Quality Road
3) Haynesfield
4) Musket Man
5) Jardim

Race 11
1) Talk Therapy (Best Bet)
2) Whateverittakes
3) Syzygy
4) City Train
5) Gotta Go Around

Overall: 16-49 (32%)

Good luck!