PITCHING DEPTH SHOULD BE KEY

BILL IANNONE Staff Writer
Section: SPORTS,  Page: D10

Date: Thursday, July 28, 1994

Have arms, will travel. That could be the motto for the six teams vying for two berths in the Connie Mack North Atlantic regionals in Long Island.


According to the managers of the three local Connie Mack squads, the teams with the most pitching depth will be the successful ones in the mini Eastern Regional which gets underway today at Schenectady's Central Park. The `mini' tourney is new this year. In past years, the district champions went directly to the North Atlantic regionals. But now a new stepping stone was added and two teams from this tourney will move on to the North Atlantic Regionals.


Clifton Park, the host team, qualified for the Eastern Regionals by winning the regular season title in the Schenectady County Connie Mack League. Kral AC, which finished second to Clifton Park during the regular season, qualified for the event by winning the Upper New York State Connie Mack championship this past week.


The South Troy Dodgers, which won the Eastern New York Connie Mack league crown, rounds out the local teams in the event.


The other three teams hoping to advance are the Bedouins Baseball Team of Baltimore (39-7), the Maryland state champs, St. Athanasius of Brooklyn (22-4) and Baldwinsville of Syracuse (9-0).


``I feel good about our chances,'' said Clifton Park manager John Brouwer. ``We only made 13 errors in 18 games. We don't beat ourselves. I don't know how we'll hit the better competition, but we won't beat ourselves.''


Clifton Park, which has a 16-2 record, is led by a pair of solid hurlers in right-hander Mike Abbruzzese (7-1, 1.78 earned run average) and lefty Will Brouwer (5-0, 0.21), the manager's son. Brouwer also can count on Jack Meager and Keith Lansley, who was undefeated this season for Shenendehowa.


The Connie Mack teams are allowed to make three pick-ups after their regular season ends.


While Clifton Park has four solid starters, it won't be hurting on the offensive side, either. Second baseman Scott Shaugnessy (.395 and 15 stolen bases), CF Russ Carson (.358 and 22 stolen bases), SS Charlie Finn (.385 and team-leading 17 runs batted in) and Jeff Vivenzio (.302 and 16 RBI), who plays just about anywhere for Brouwer, leads the Clifton Park attack.


Kral AC (18-7) received a first-round bye (along with Bedouins) in the event. Despite the slight reprieve, manager Dave Mennillo Jr. is another who feels pitching will be the difference.


``You never have enough pitching in these tournaments,'' he says. ``Nobody has enough arms.''


Mennillo hoped he helped his team's chances with a couple of additions. Gloversville's Peter Liu, who won two games and saved another in the Upper NYS event, already has earned his keep. Mennillo picked up Colonie's Matt Murphy to add to his pitching depth. He can also count on RHP Eric Smith, who pitching nine innings in the Upper NYS tourney and allowed one earned run.


But Kral AC's chances would get a big boost if left-hander Tracy LaFountain is able to pitch. LaFountain is committed to the Schenectady Blue Jays and his availability is not known. LaFountain only pitched two games for Kral AC. He tossed a two-hitter in beating Clifton Park during the regular season and fired a five-hitter in the Upper NYS championship game.


Liu also led the Kral AC's on offense in the tournament with a .363 average, one home run and six RBI. P-1B Curt Mason (.350), CF Steve Mackinnon (.500), OF Claude Anderson (.333), OF Anthony Rizzo (.312), 3B Andy DiCaprio (.300), 2B Tom Bird (five RBI) and C Mike Mareno (key grand slam and five RBI) helped to ignite things for Mennillo.


Shortstop David DiPippo is another key ingredient to Kral's winning ways. ``He's got good on-base precentage numbers,'' says Mennillo, ``but he's flawless in the field.''


South Troy Dodgers' manager George Rogers, who is in his 23rd year with the team, feels defense is the key.


``If we can play defense,'' says Rogers, ``we'll be okay. I feel very good about this team. We will pitch and hit. If we can do the job on the field we'll be in the thick of things.''


The Dodgers, who finished 19-3 in the league and are 28-6 overall, have a solid staff of seven hurlers, according to Rogers. LHP Mike Bodnar (6-2), LHP Mike Dane (8-2), RHP Joe Maloney (8-0), RHP Greg Bobersky (4-2) and RHP Ryan Dowdell (1-0, eight saves) have been with South Troy all year long. Rogers picked up a pair of accomplished pitchers in LHP Mike Seebode (Columbia County) and RHP Mike Waldbillig (Latham).


South Troy has had a balanced attack this year with second baseman Pat Zucaro (team-leading 49 hits), first baseman Tom Berghela (team leading 48 RBI and nine HRs), C Tom LaLiberte, short stop Eric Hoffman, third baseman Scott Patreniani, right fielder Scott Driscoll, center fielder Brian Kerwin, left fielder Pete Zucaro, designated hitter Dave Chomycz and Steve Krasnopolski and utility infielder Joe McNall.


Rogers also expects to have Seebode in the lineup somewhere. ``He's one of the better players in the area,'' he says.


The double-elimination tournament will re-draw pairings Friday after every team has played at least one game. MINI EASTERN REGIONAL (At Central Park, Schenectady) TODAY'S GAMES


Clifton Park vs. St. Athanasius of Brooklyn, 5 p.m., at A Diamond.


Baldwinsville, Syracuse vs. South Troy Dodgers, 8 p.m., at A Diamond. FRIDAY'S GAMES


Clifton Park-St. Athanasius winner vs. Kral AC, 11 a.m. at A Diamond.


Baldwinsville-South Troy winner vs. Maryland, 11 a.m. at B Diamond. Bethlehem Babe Ruth


For the second consecutive season, the Bethlehem 13-year-old all-stars have advanced to the Babe Ruth Regional Tournament to be held this year in Millville, N.J.


``We try to play into October and give our kids a lot of games,'' said league president, Tom Yovine. ``I think the more games they play and the repetition is the key.''


The team will receive a sendoff from Town Hall on Friday at 9 a.m. and will play its first game on Saturday at noon versus a team from northern New Jersey.


Bethlehem advanced to regional competition after beating Cohoes 5-3 in the championship game of the state tournament in Guilderland.


The pitching staff has been led by Matt Elfeldt, Pat Hughes and Calvin Brown. Elfeldt and Hughes have been splitting most games, while Brown has been used when needed.


Brian Hahn and Hughes have been providing the offense. Hahn is hitting .538 during tournament play, while Hughes has been hitting .379.


The defense is anchored by infielders Matt Brattrude and Frank Macarilla along with outfielder Tim Hill.


``We are very small, but these guys are scrappers and will not give up,'' said Bethlehem Manager, Rick Cahill. ``We will need to play very good defense and get a few brakes, but everyone has to play for 21 outs and anything can happen.''


Burnt Hills Babe Ruth Bambino The Burnt Hills Babe Ruth Bambino team will look to continue its winning ways when it competes in the Mid-Atlantic Regionals on Friday in Mt. Airy, Maryland.


Burnt Hills defeated Southline 1-0 in its opening game, went on to beat Phoenixville (Pennsylvania) 6-2 and will be looking to advance to the finals of the winner's bracket when it meets Piedmont, Del., at 7 p.m.


``We have had some really talented teams in the past,'' said league president, Tom Mills. ``The thing with these kids is that they believe in each other and everyone seems to come through when you need them to.''


Brian McLaughlin and Ryan Davis anchor the pitching staff and catcher John Goodell has been giving a solid performance behind the plate.


McLaughlin has been providing the offense along with Matt Ketterer, who slugged a key home run in the finals of the state tournament in Fishkill.


Second baseman Aaron Duffy and outfielder Chris Golinski have been defensive standouts.


``We look as good as any team here,'' said manager, Steve Sargent. ``Our pitching is getting us there and we are executing almost perfectly.''


The winner of the regional tournament advances to the Babe Ruth Bambino World Series in Henderson, Ky. Staff writer Chris Connors contributed to this story.