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Baseball preview: Dutchmen seek redemption for semifinal loss

Veterans guide Guilderland into South Division battle with Columbia and Bethlehem

Seniors Tim Coppinger, left, Lewis Lima, center, and Joe Bender hope to lead Guilderland to the Section II Class AA title after last year’s loss in the semifinals.

Seniors Tim Coppinger, left, Lewis Lima, center, and Joe Bender hope to lead Guilderland to the Section II Class AA title after last year’s loss in the semifinals. Photo by Rob Jonas.

The Guilderland baseball team has one goal this season: get back to Joseph Bruno Stadium.

That was where the Dutchmen got last year before losing to eventual Section II Class AA champion Columbia 2-1 in the semifinals. It’s a loss that still haunts Guilderland.

Reader poll

Which baseball team will win the Suburban Council South Division title?

  • Bethlehem 58%
  • Colonie 26%
  • Columbia 2%
  • Guilderland 13%

53 total votes.

“It was a tough way to go out last year,” said Guilderland coach Doug LaValley. “We didn’t do enough to win that game. That motivates them to get better this year.”

The Dutchmen have 10 seniors ready to lead them this year including pitchers Ethan Bartlett, Tim Coppinger and Lewis Lima.

“If we throw strikes, we’ll be fine,” said LaValley.

It’s at the plate where Guilderland seeks improvement. LaValley said he wants to see more consistent run production in 2013.

“We put a little extra attention on our hitting,” said LaValley. “We didn’t hit well last year. We won with our pitching.”

Third baseman Joe Bender is one of the players anxiously awaiting the start of the season.

“I’m thinking we can win it all,” said Bender. “We have what it takes to get to ‘The Joe’ and be successful.”

To get there, Guilderland must first negotiate a tough Suburban Council schedule — one which includes a pair of South Division meetings with Columbia.

“I believe our division is very tough,” said LaValley. “It always comes down to who plays catch the best. Basically, you have to execute day in and day out if you want to do well in this league.”

The Dutchmen get their first chance to play Columbia Wednesday in Guilderland, and Bender said the team is ready.

“I think losing to Columbia three times last year has us motivated,” said Bender.

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