John C. Longton III
The Hudson Valley baseball team swept the Adirondack Timberwolves in four games before starting their series with crosstown rival Schenectady Royals.
In the series with the Timberwolves, the Viking offense was red hot. Over the four game home and away set the Viking bats put up a total of 43 runs vs 15 surrendered.
Pitching was the theme of the first two games of the series that were played at the Joe. Caleb Gregg, from Chatham, pitched a complete-game allowing only one earned run and striking out seven in game one. It was a similar story in game two where Darren Conte, from Hudson, took the mound and threw a complete game shutout on surrendering two hits.
On the road the story of the Viking’s success came from their offense. Darren Conte, Liam Kelly, from Clifton Park, and Brandon Martinez, from River Edge, NJ combined for a total of 9 RBIs in a 14-4 win in a six inning game one. In game two Conte picked up right where he left off going 4-5 from the plate and adding 3 more RBIs. Matt Sand, from Altamont, also had a good day from the plate going 3-3 with 4 RBI’s as the Vikings completed the sweep.
The Vikings were riding high heading into a weekend series with the Schenectady Royals where a heated rivalry would pick back up and playoff seeding would hang in the balance.
The first set of games in the weekend series with the Royals were played in Schenectady on Saturday. Tempers flared, words were exchanged and it wasn’t too favorable for the Vikings. The Viking’s offense never really came to life and only mustered up 3 runs on 11 hits in both games combined.
In game one the Vikings lost 3-1 and their only run came from Darren Conte’s RBI double in the first inning. The Royals answered with a run of their own in the bottom half of the first, posted two more in the 3rd and didn’t look back from there.
The second game had a similar story. The Vikings scored their only two runs in the 1st inning off RBI base hits from Matt Sand and Ben Julian, from Troy. Again, like the first game, the Royals answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning. And like the first game they would score multiple runs in the 3rd inning and would not yield the lead.
The Vikings were sent back to Troy battered with questions. With the playoffs looming in the not too distant future they needed to find answers. And just like that, a switched flipped and their offense was ignited.
At first it seemed as if the Royals were going to sweep the Vikings in their weekend series when they took a 6-0 lead in game one. Joe bender, from Guilderland, gave the Vikings a much needed spark with a 2 run homerun in the 4th. From then on the momentum shifted and with the season on the line the Vikings came to life. The next inning the Vikings batted around the order and posted 7 runs and regained the offensive edge they had been previously lacking in the series with the Royals. They finished the game with a 9-7 win and carried that intensity over into game two.
Corey Hommel, from Shenendehowa, took the mound in game two and delivered a playoff performance when the team needed it the most. Hommel pitched 6 innings and only surrendered two runs. The offense, behind Brandon Martinez’s two run home run and Darren Conte’s 3 RBI’s, took care of the rest as the Vikings cruised to a 7-3 victory. The Vikings took both on Sunday just when it had looked as if the season was slipping away.
“Yesterday was tough (away at Schenectady). Mentally we weren’t there. We let them get to us, but all in all we came back and battled. We hit the way we were supposed to hit and we played our game,” said head coach Alex Jurczynski.
The playoff race for the #2 seed is neck and neck between the Royals and the Vikings. If the Viking’s hadn’t bounced back and won both games Sunday then the Royals would have finished the season as the second team behind the Herkimer Generals. “If we win against Columbia Greene Tuesday and hopefully they (SCCC) get a loss in one of their next 6 games we get the #2 seed and we’re home. If not we’re going to be away. And I’m hoping that miracle happens,” said Jurczynski.
You can watch the Hudson Valley baseball team’s last home game May 5 2 P.M. at the Joe where they host the Columbia-Greene Twins. If the Vikings sweep the Twins they put themselves in good position to host a first round playoff game.