The teams that will assemble at NYSEG Stadium today in quest of the Southern Tier Athletic Conference baseball title feature some squads familiar with adding league hardware to their school’s trophy cases.
For Seton Catholic Central, however, the day will represent an opportunity to end a very lengthy STAC title drought.
The Saints seek their first STAC title since 1984 when they join Vestal, Horseheads, and Chenango Valley in league postseason competition.
Vestal and Chenango Valley will square off in a 10 a.m. semifinal, with Seton CC and Horseheads playing in the second semifinal at 1. The semifinal winners will meet for the title at 4.
Horseheads most recently won the STAC title in 2010, with Vestal (2009) and CV (2006) also winning their last STAC titles in the not-so-distant past. Seton CC, meanwhile, won its first STAC division title this season since 2000.
“We’ve had good team chemistry this season because they’ve been together so long,” said Seton CC coach Jim Miller of his 13-3 squad that features eight seniors and four juniors. “And our three senior tri-captains (Connor Ligeikis, Casey Kane, and Patrick Gosney) have been very good, they’re all different but they help the team stay on an even keel.”
Gosney and fellow left-handed pitcher Michael Korchak have been most instrumental in the Saints’ success this season.
Korchak, a junior, has not allowed an earned run in 36 2/3 innings this season, allowing only 22 hits and striking out 72 batters while compiling a 6-0 record. At the plate, Korchak is batting a team-best .489.
Gosney, who will likely get the start on the mound against Horseheads, is 4-1 with 1.20 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 35 innings.
“Last year with those two, we probably had a shot (of getting to the STAC playoffs),” Miller said. “But with the rain, we had too many weeks last year where we were playing four games so Korchak and Gosney didn’t get to throw as many games as they probably would have.”
Vestal (14-1) won the Metro Division title for the first time since its STAC-title season of 2009. The Golden Bears are batting .375 as a team, with leadoff hitter Nick Wegmann (.378), Troy Wilson (.375, 2 homers and 16 RBIs), Jake Spellane (.371) Mike Osinski (.367), and Sean Mullins (.311, team-high 17 RBIs) among the most noteworthy hitters.
On the mound, the trio of Wegmann, Osinski, and Wilson have been solid, combining for an 11-1 record with 2 saves, Osinski leading the way with a 4-0 record and 1.62 ERA.
“The majority of the core of this group was there last year,” Vestal coach Tank Anderson said. “They had the experience, and a lot of guys improved over the summer. They learned how to win, and with high school kids that’s a big advantage.”
CV (13-4) won the state Class B title in 2011 but this year’s East Division marks the first for fourth-year coach Michael Allen.
The Warriors, like Vestal, are a strong-hitting team with seven batters in their lineup hitting over .300. Chris Ruffo (.444, 26 runs, 19 RBIs), Matt Personius (.393, 20 runs, 15 RBIs) and Kolby Ross (.386, 25 RBIs) are the top hitters.
“This is the best-hitting team I’ve ever had,” Allen said. “We don’t have the (Colby) Lewis or (Mike) Fillers who could strikeout 12 guys, but we can hit.”
CV does have a capable pitching staff, led by Nick Deamer (5-1, 3.53) and Zach Cole (2-0, 1.21 ERA).
Horseheads (11-7) won the West Division. The Blue Raiders are a bit banged-up according to coach Jeff Limoncelli but are hopeful of putting together a good day.
“We’re happy to be a part of it, it gets us another tough game,” Limoncelli said. “Seton CC is very good with good pitching, that’s what we’re looking at. If we happen to win STAC, that’s great. But it will give us a good test going into Sectionals.”