Inside Rondout Valley baseball’s rally in state opener

Rondout Valley senior Andrew Huffman had a message for his teammates Ryan Sheehan and Kyle Altadonna before the top of the seventh inning started.

“We are not going down like this,” Huffman said. “Just take a breath and go after it up there.”

Huffman was dealing, throwing a n0-hitter through six innings but Rondout Valley trailed 2-0 to Albertus Magnus and pitcher Mike Dunne. Dunne had limited Rondout Valley to a single by Dallas Romaguera in the second inning and leadoff single by Jeremy Pugliese in the sixth inning.

Sheehan reached on an error by Albertus Magnus shortstop Frank Margiotta to start the seventh inning. Huffman hit a blast to right field for a double. Altadonna got Rondout Valley on the board with a sacrifice fly, scoring Sheehan and Romaguera delivered an RBI single to score Jared Countryman, running for Huffman. After Sam Culbach struck out, Jeremy Pugliese drew a four-pitch walk to bring sophomore Austin Wells to the plate for his first at-bat. Wells, who replaced injured Gavin Costello in the field in the bottom of the sixth, delivered the game-winning hit with a sharp single up the middle.

Huffman nearly threw one of the most improbable high school no-hitter. He walked seven, including five straight in the second inning. He started the seventh inning with 112 pitches and was one out away from a no-hitter when Joe Ottaviano took him to the fence and left-center field. Huffman credited center fielder A.J. Parete for getting to the ball quickly and preventing a tying inside-the-park home run. He got Shane Brosnan to bounce to Sheehan at first base on the next pitch to send Rondout Valley to the state quarterfinals.

“They never gave up from the second inning to the seventh inning,” Rondout Valley coach Paul Bogart said. “Even the innings where we went 1-2-3, we were hitting the ball. I just kept telling them, ‘we are going to put something together, keep swinging the bat and hit the fastball. Hit the fastball, don’t hit the junk.’ That’s what we did there, they finally put something together.”

Huffman said he looked up at the scoreboard in the fifth inning and realized he was throwing a no-hitter and losing.

‘I said, ‘What’s going on here?” said Huffman, who struck out seven. “I’m glad I settled in and we were able to hold them off from there on.”

Rondout Valley fans traveled well to Pace University in Pleasantville. The Ganders will play much closer to home Saturday at Cantine Field in Saugerties, where they won the Section 9 title last Saturday. Mattituck, the Section 11 champion and Rondout Valley’s next opponent, has a three-hour ride up to Saugerties.

VIDEO: Hitting hero Austin Wells

VIDEO: Rondout Valley ace Andrew Huffman

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    Sal Interdonato

    Award-winning writer Sal Interdonato has been on the Army football beat since 2007. He'll take you inside the huddle and into the lives of the Black Knights. Read Full
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