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Spring into action

Fallsburg junior Cory McKeon had an admirable first outing of the year. He lasted five innings and yielded three runs.

By Richard A. Ross
April 5, 2011

JEFFERSONVILLE, NY — Spring training is an essential forerunner to the Major League Baseball season as teams spend more than a month in the warmth of Florida or Arizona, getting ready for the season ahead by honing their skills in hitting, pitching, fielding and base running. This past week, the long-awaited MLB season began as teams travelled north to begin the 2011 campaign.

For local baseball teams, spring training is limited to practicing in gymnasiums while winter makes its belated departure. Consequently, much of the skills refinement comes during the actual season. For Sullivan West and Fallsburg, about to open their 2011 season on April 4 on a damp, but playable, Lion’s Field, a sole scrimmage against Ellenville and Spackenkill respectively would have to suffice as “live” preparation.

With Fallsburg’s move to Class C a year ago, the two teams are no longer in the same division. Fallsburg now wrangles with the likes of S.S. Seward, Chester and Tri-Valley. This year’s Comets’ squad is very young, with only one senior onboard in Mike Arce. Coach Mike Weiner’s squad had a rough go of it last year, but this spring they hope to make significant strides and earn themselves a spot in sectionals.

A year ago, Class B Sullivan West made it to the postseason by having its way with Division IV rivals Burke, Liberty and O’Neill. A sweep of archrival Burke was particularly pleasing to the ravenous Bulldogs.

Sullivan West Coach Kurt Scheibe Jr. sent Richard Mirch to the hill to counter Fallsburg’s Cory McKeon. The junior hurlers locked up in a tight pitching battle for the first couple of innings, as each held the opposing lineups scoreless through the first and second frames.

Fallsburg had its chances to take the early lead, but squandered a leadoff double in the first by Dustin Foertsch and a pair of leadoff singles in the second by Arce and Skyler Madura, as Sullivan West’s pitching and defense rose to the occasion to put out the potential fires. A 6-4-3 double play ended the second inning as Fallsburg’s base running showed itself to be an Achilles’ heel. Two more double plays would ensue as the game progressed, both resulting from runners tagged off base following caught flies in the outfield.