John C. Longton III
The Hudson Valley baseball team is off to a red hot start behind behind a combination of team chemistry and guys stepping up in big spots. Riddled with injuries, the Vikings have rallied together and put together a 9-3 record to start the season.
Last week they went 6-2, winning 3 and losing 1 to each Jefferson and Fulton-Montgomery.
“Were fighters,” said head coach Alex Jurczynski regarding the team’s current situation. “We’re missing two of our top bats right now, we’re putting pitchers in to play outfield, we’re putting catchers in the outfield and we’re doing what needs to be done to win,” said Jurczynski following Sunday’s second win in as many games against the Fulton-Montgomery Raiders.
The Vikings have have been in almost every type of situation this season in terms of how they’ve won games. There’s been everything from nail biting walk offs all the way to winning by 20 runs.
Veteran 3rd baseman Joe Bender, from Guilderland, has been having himself a great season. The sophomore is hitting over .400 and is on pace to have almost 40 RBI’s before the season’s end. He gives all of the credit for he and his team’s good play to his teammates. “We’re just a team. A team wins. Some of our top players are out and it’s a team effort and everyone has contributed to our success,” said Bender.
In the second game of a doubleheader against the Jefferson Cannoneers on Thursday, the Vikings had two less hits than their opponent but found a way to win the game in walk-off fashion. Freshman Darren Conte, from Hudson, hit a blooper to right-center that scored the winning run.
“I had all of the confidence that we were going to pull it out, but I’m just glad that I was the one to be able to put us over the top,” said Conte. “We just grinded it out.”
In Sunday’s second game against Fulton-Montgomery starting pitcher Codey Piel, from East Greenbush, had to be removed from the game two pitches into his start due to inflammation in his elbow. Second year pitcher Kyle Hall, from Maple Hill, had to warm up on the fly and went right into the game. He gave up 2 runs in the first, but then quickly settled into his groove and wouldn’t surrender another run. “In the first inning it was a different element because I didn’t get to warm up in the bullpen,” said Hall. “I felt like I was rushed because everyone was watching me, waiting for me to get ready, but after the first inning it was pretty easy sailing from there. I just kept throwing strikes like I normally do.”
The overlying theme to this year’s season thus far is team chemistry and people stepping up in big spots.