The Rhinebeck Hawks took the Section IX, Class C baseball championship May 30, beating Tri-Valley 11-5 on a day so hot the game was delayed two hours.
The Hawks never trailed in the game, played at SUNY New Paltz, where the heat index topped 95 degrees, triggering a mandatory delay.
“We’re very excited to have won,” Rhinebeck head coach Bill Carney told The Observer. “It’s like a monkey off our back – as opposed to years past, we really believed we were the team to beat. We knew other years that we were good enough to win, but this year we knew we were the best team.”
The Hawks got to the championship courtesy of another bad-weather day, this one on May 28. There were 10 post-season baseball games scheduled, but nine were postponed due to rain, wind, cold, and an occasional thunder squall.
The only game played that day? Rhinebeck versus Pine Plains, in the Section IX Class C semifinals.
Rhinebeck won, 2-1, but it was a bad day for ball. That was easy to figure out by watching Pine Plains pitcher John Wheeler and Rhinebeck pitcher Kory Hutchins. Both throwers left plenty of batters on base, unable to find the right velocity or precision in the constant drizzle. But the Hawks managed avoid any of the fielding errors that killed their chances in the Mid-Hudson Athletic League baseball championships and leaned heavily on Hutchins who, even though his stuff wasn’t quite right, delivered the Hawks their first post-season victory.
Pine Plains scored their only run in the top of the second, when first baseman Tyler Lydon drilled a double over first base and drove in the runner from second. The Ganders flirted with a scoring drive a few more times in the game, especially in the ninth inning. With two men on and the tying run at third, and after the runner at third almost successfully stole home base, Hutchins walked the Pine Plains batter to load the bases with two men out. The gamble worked, and the following batter dribbled one short to the infield and was picked off at first for the game-killing out.
But the Hawks didn’t just rely on Hutchins’ gutsy-if-slightly-off pitching for the win — he drove in the game-winning run.
Rhinebeck’s John Hanaburgh batted in a run in the bottom of the fifth inning to even up the game, 1-1, sending Hutchins to the plate with two out. Hutchins had driven a long fly earlier in the game to left field, but was picked off close to the fence. The second time, on almost the exact same hit, the ball dropped behind the left fielder five feet from the fence. Hutchins took second base on the hit and sent Hanaburgh home to put the Hawks at 2-1.
“He was great,” said Carney of Hutchins’ performance, “A tight game – he pitched tremendous, and hit the ball great…He batted the ball great this year, hit about .300. He was in total command.”
Hutchins managed six strikeouts and allowed four hits on the game; Pine Plains’ Wheeler managed four strikeouts and allowed six hits.