The Section 9 baseball tournament begins with quarterfinal round games on Tuesday afternoon. Here’s a look ahead to some of the teams and players to watch.
Defending champion: Valley Central. The Vikings are the No. 5 seed in this year’s tournament.
Top seed: Roosevelt (16-3) is seeking the program’s first Section 9 title. The Presidents, led by right-handed ace Will Grega, fell to Marlboro in the semifinals of the MHAL tournament on May 16.
Wildcard: Take your pick. Kingston, the No. 8 seed, has as good a chance as any of emerging on top in this bracket. Minisink Valley, Pine Bush and Valley Central all have strong resumes as well.
Player to watch: Kashaun Curry, LHP/OF, Middletown, Sr. The ace of the Middies’ lefty-heavy pitching staff, has been dominant on the mound all season long. Can he carry Middletown to its first Section 9 baseball title?
Defending champion: Wallkill. The Panthers are the No. 5 seed in this year’s tournament.
Top seed: Cornwall (16-3) has relied on a huge, by high school standards, 24-man roster this season. Will the Green Dragons have the right players in place in this win-or-go-home situation?
Wildcard: No. 3 Port Jervis finds itself on the MHAL side of this bracket, hosting No. 6 New Paltz in the quarterfinals. The winner of that game plays the winner of a quarterfinal between No. 2 Saugerties and No. 7 Red Hook. Will Port Jervis, swept by Cornwall in a three-game OCIAA Division III series, get a rematch in the championship game?
Player to watch: Cole Whitney, RHP/3B, Goshen, Sr. The St. John’s-bound pitcher is hard to hit thanks to his fastball velocity. The Gladiators, seeded fourth, play No. 5 Wallkill in the quarterfinals, with Cornwall awaiting the winner following a bye. How will Goshen use Whitney?
Defending champion: Spackenkill. The Spartans, winners of the MHAL tournament in mid-May, are the No. 2 seed.
Top seed: Marlboro (15-4) is back in Class B after having lost to Wallkill in last year’s Section 9 Class A championship game. The Dukes return a ton of talent from that team, including junior southpaw Nick Mongelli.
Wildcard: Liberty, John S. Burke Catholic and James I. O’Neill tied for the OCIAA Division IV regular season title and enter the postseason as seeds No. 5, 6 and 7, respectively. These teams will have a tough road to the finals, playing as the road teams in the quarterfinals and with very good teams likely awaiting in the semis should they move on.
Player to watch: Killian Bloat, RHP/CF, Liberty, Sr. Bloat has been a do-it-all kind of player for the Indians this year. He capped off his regular season by hitting for the cycle in a win over Eldred.
Defending champion: Chester. The Hambletonians are the No. 2 seed this season.
Top seed: Webutuck (14-2) has lost twice to Spackenkill this season and there’s no shame in that. But will the Warriors’ relatively weak regular season schedule, playing in the MHAL’s Division IV, hurt the team in the postseason?
Wildcard: OCIAA Division V rivals Chester and No. 3 S.S. Seward will meet in a semifinal game on Wednesday. Chester took two of three in the regular season series and the winner gets an extra day of rest with Webutuck hosting the Pine Plains-Tri-Valley winner in a semifinal on Thursday. Look for the Chester-Seward winner to have a leg up, by being an arm up, in the Section 9 final.
Player to watch: Chester’s brother duo of Kyle Marco (Sr., RHP/SS/C) and Colin Marco (Soph., RHP/C), who combined to make 14 starts. Together, they went 10-2, allowed 24 earned runs in 88 innings and struck out 86 batters.
Defending champion: John A. Coleman Catholic. The Statesmen failed to qualify for postseason play in 2015.
Top seed: Chapel Field (8-9) won the OCIAA Division VI regular season title, it’s first since 2010, and earned the No. 1 seed.
Wildcard: Livingston Manor is the No. 2 seed and the only other team in the bracket. It’ll be the Wildcats’ fifth finals appearance in the past seven seasons. Livingston Manor won a Section 9 title in 2011 and went on to become state champion.
Player to watch: Dillon Taggart, C, Livingston Manor, Sr. Taggart made the varsity team as an 8th grader, so he knows what it’s like to play in the big games, having competed for the Wildcats during their state title run.