The second half of the 2011 sports season provided several highs, as well as a couple of lows. Here is a look back:
• Clifton Park was more than a host to the Babe Ruth World Series last year. Clifton Park went to the national finals before being shut out by California’s Tri-Valley 12-0. In making it that far, the Bulldogs became the fourth host team to reach the championship game in the history of the Babe Ruth World Series – a tournament that started in 1952.
To get to the title game, Clifton Park had to get past Guilderland in the semifinals. The Bulldogs took advantage of four Guilderland errors to defeat the Eastern New York State champions 4-1. Clifton Park pitcher Mason Munger threw six innings of two-hit ball to lead the Bulldogs.
• Prior to the start of the Babe Ruth World Series, there was another significant story happening in Clifton Park as long-time Shenendehowa High School football coach Brent Steuerwald announced his retirement effective at the end of the 2011 season.
Steuerwald started the Shen football program in 1967 and guided the Plainsmen to 24 league titles and 12 Section II championships through the 2010 season. The question would be, could the 2011 Plainsmen give Steuerwald one more championship? The answer would come in the fall.
• Up in Saratoga Springs, the oldest thoroughbred race track continued to rake in the money for the city and the region. Saratoga Race Course saw an increase in on-track wagering in 2011, despite a slight drop in overall attendance. The economic impact of the 39-day racing season was estimated at $200 million for the region, according to a study done by the Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency.
On the track, trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez repeated as meet champions. Pletcher set a new Saratoga record by saddling 38 winners, while Velazquez rode 54 horses to the winner’s circle. Mechanicville native Chad Brown was second to Pletcher in the trainer standings with a career-best 22 winners.