Al Hart Staff writer
Section: SPORTS,  Page: D6

Date: Thursday, April 5, 1990

"If" is the word most often uses by Suburban Council baseball coaches to size up their teams.

Witness: *Dom Gisotti, Niskayuna: "If we can stay in it early in the season and let the young kids get their feet on the ground, we'll do all right."

*Ken Hodge, Bethlehem: "One of the keys for us is how strong we get up the middle on defense. If we do that, we'll be right in there because my guys are working hard and I've got some athletes."

*Doug Jones, Scotia: "My defense is excellent, the hitting is solid and we've got decent team speed. My pitching depth is what worries me. If the pitchers come through, we'll have a good year."

If (there's that word again) the Suburban's Blue and Gold divisional races are hotly contested, it won't be the first time. The Suburban had some stirring competition last year with Shenendehowa tying Colonie for the Blue title and Bethlehem overtaking Mohonasen to win the Gold. By earning a share, Shenendehowa won at least a part of the Blue title for the sixth consecutive year. Colonie, though, went on to win the ClassA sectional crown.

Here's a look at all the Suburban teams:

BLUE DIVISION COLONIE Coach - Len Muhlich Last year - 15-6

Roster: Phil Costello (lf), Dave Dittmer (dh, 1b), Dave Elmendorf (c, p), Vito Iaia (util.), Steve Lawlor (p, util.), Adam Loveland (p, 2b, 3b), Jason Loveland (ss), Mike Longo (p), Tom Luther (p, 1b, rf), Mike McDonough (p), Bill Newcomb (3b, p), Derek Rice (1b), Nick Roddy (2b), Sean Welch (cf), Nick Zanello (util.), Matt Zarch (util.).

Outlook: After winning ClassA sectional title and competing in state tournament in Utica last year, Garnet Raiders figure to be rebuilding. Still, Muhlich figures if the young Raiders can achieve a respectable record by midseason, they could surprise. COLUMBIA Coach - Tim Lange Last year - 6-14

Roster: Doug Lamoureux (ss), Ken Feiden (p, 1b), Steve Klimack (p), Jeff Rivet (of), Jerry Cioffi (1b), Marc Williams (2b), Chris Dedrick (p, 3b), Jason Day (c, p), Nick Consula (inf), Nate Lawrence (of), Guy Sylvestri (inf), Matt Thompson (of, inf), Brian Wiese (of), Kerrie Morris (c).

Outlook: There are only four players (Williams, Lamoureux, Dedrick and Day) with varsity experience, but Blue Devils are hoping for breakthrough year for first-year coach Lange. Williams, who led the team in most offensive categories last year as a sophomore, hit .455. Columbia should improve on 6-14 record. SARATOGA Coach - Nick Alex Last year - 7-12

Roster: Bob DeCelle (p, 3b), Scott Seeley (ss), Dan Hall (c), Josh Barney (p, of), Eric Schneider (of), Mark Scirocco (of), Marty Migliori (of, p), T.J. Reilly (1b), Josh Isenberg (2b), Jeff House (p), Tom Stanton (p, of), Ryan Cahill (of), Dave Hall (c), Bill Thobae (p, of).

Outlook: Saratoga has five pitchers with some varsity experience. Hall is back for his third varsity season. Barney, a switch hitter, hit .400 last year. Blue Streaks could surprise. SHAKER Coach - Ed Dopp Last year - 9-10

Roster: Toshi Asai (3b), Bob Batchelder (p, 1b), Joe Bruno (p, ss), Scott Clement (2b, ss), Brian Fanniff (of, c), Chris Fitzgerald (3b, p), Jamie Haver (ss, 2b), Dave Hogan (1b, p), Chris Johnson (of, p), Mark Lavenia (p, 1b), Bill Marszalek (c), Jack McCabe (3b, p), Scott Miles (2b), Dan Morrell (of), Frank Pisano (of, c), Pete Siciliano (of).

Outlook: Shaker hoping to bounce back from a mediocre season with a youthful (six juniors, two sophomores to go with nine seniors) squad. Blue Bison have excellent team leaders in co-captains Johnson and Lavenia. SHENENDEHOWA Coach - Don Van Vleet Last year - 13-7

Roster: Mike Reader (c), Jeff Walker (c), Dave Galbraith (p, 1b), Scott Baldwin (2b, p), Lance Paglierani (ss), Chris Nyers (3b), John Williams (of), Cassidy Jones (rf), Bob VanderVeer (cf), Brian Allen (of), Tony Ryan (of), Dan Constantino (p), Bob Meager (p), Erik Voss (p), Scott Belonga (p).

Outlook: Van Vleet, starting his 32nd year as coach of the Plainsmen, isn't worried about his team's ability to produce runs and play defense, but he is fretting about the pitching. Shen has some mound potential, but hardly any varsity experience. Collectively, the staff has about seven or eight innings of experience and that could hurt. GOLD DIVISION BETHLEHEM Coach - Ken Hodge Last year - 18-4

Roster: Jamie Mizener (1b, p), Kevin Keparutis (p, of), Alex Hackman (p, 1b), Rob Kells (p, of), Scott Fish (p, 2b), Dave Lorette (1b), Matt Dennin (2b), Chris Bearup (2b), Craig Weinert (ss), Mike Murphy (ss), Al Greenhalgh (3b), Scott Hodge (of), Andre Cadeux (of), Matt Quatraro (c).

Outlook: Strong program in the past five years and one that is likely to contend for divisional and sectional titles again. Eagles' infield defense may not be as strong as it was last spring, but a strong pitching staff anchored by Mizener (8-1, 2 saves, 1.61 ERA) and Keparutis (5-0, 2.22) should help. Hodge (.421 BA) leads strong batting attack. BURNT HILLS Coach - Pete Barden Last year - 10-9

Roster: Mike Banaszewski (c), Mike Kuon (c), J.J. Pearsall (1b, of), Mike Okray (p), Joe Steigerwald (p), Pete Boone (p), B.J. Jourdanais (p, ss), Doug Walters (3b), Tim Bolhke (1b, dh), Chris Renaud (cf), Brian Lutz (inf).

Outlook: Spartans have a bizarre season in offing if for no other reason than all their games will be on the road - due to construction at the Burnt Hills campus. Barden expects his club to be competitive with its combination of good pitching and defense, but is unsure how the offense will hold up. Jourdanais, an outstanding talent at shortstop, on mound and as a switch hitter, hit over .300 each of past two seasons. GUILDERLAND Coach - Dan Nicholas Last year - 6-11

Roster: Matt Baumann (p, inf), Tim Sorrell (p), Dave Zebrowski (p), Daryl Hornberger (p, of), Randy Winne (c), Paul Mastrobuono (c), Mike Ruberti (1b), Greg Smith (inf), Mike Igoe (inf), Joe Altieri (inf), Joe Mannarino (of), Mike Markowski (of), Jamie Reed (inf, of), Jeff Mears (of), Chris Euard (of), Kevin McGraw (dh).

Outlook: Nicholas expects the Dutchmen to produce runs and play solid defense, but the pitching staff is extremely inexperienced. Only Baumann, a junior, has any varsity experience, and that was a victory over Scotia. MOHONASEN Coach - Bill Thwaits Last year - 13-7

Roster: Todd Lucca (3b), Ryan Morgan (p, of), John Mahon (c), Dave Dagostino (2b), Eric Rowley (cf), Joe Sidoti (1b), Mark DiPofi (of, p), Mike Sarris (ss), Joe Fingerhut (c, of), Ryan Seypura (p, of), Dennis Leaduke (p, 1b), Mike Cole (p, of), Rich Collura (p, of), Scott Hartman (c, inf).

Outlook: Mighty Warriors, always on or near the top in Gold Division and in ClassB sectionals, are talented but young with only four seniors with experience returning. Thwaits, who succeeds longtime coach Bill Gold, expects team to take advantage of its speed and aggressiveness. NISKAYUNA Coach - Dom Gisotti Last year - 6-9

Roster: Mike Rubilotta (ss, p), Greg Suchon (p, cf, 1b), Seth Flynn (3b), Dave Belardo (2b), Colin Brazell (3b, p), Ryan Donovan (3b, p), Len Hunter (1b), Stefan Parisi (of), Chris Bick (of), Blaise Arsenault (of), Brian Cornrich (p), Brian Roberts (2b), Eric Walmet (of), Matt Rotundo (p), Brian Mika (of), Derek Clement (p), Greer Bibby (c), Tom Bird (c).

Outlook: Defense is sound, but young Silver Warriors (four seniors) overall have an untested offense and could have trouble scoring runs - at least early in the season. SCOTIA Coach - Doug Jones Last year - 8-13

Roster: Jason Zoller (util), Danny Giaquinto (1b, of, p), Matt Kristel (1b, of), Joe Schettine (2b), Mark Hughes (ss, 2b, 3b), Paul Rayburn (ss, eb, 2b), Alex Chiu (p, ss), Lee Walthousen (ss, of, p), Ryan Grant (p, 3b), Mike Rodecker (p, 3b, ss), Dave Roth (of), J.J. Gibbons (cf), Jamie Wagner (c), Mike Puliafico (of).

Outlook: After landing in sixth - and last - place in the Gold Division, Tartans have only one direction in which to go. Scotia should be respectable, relying on strong infield defense and speed. Pitching depth is a question mark.