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Baseball preview: Seniors lead Garnet Raiders

Colonie seeks improvement over .500 finish in 2012 season

The Colonie baseball team has its sights set on improving last year’s 8-8 Suburban Council record. Among the veterans on the team are, from left, Eric Downey, Mike McKay, Ray Schott and Anthony Maio.

The Colonie baseball team has its sights set on improving last year’s 8-8 Suburban Council record. Among the veterans on the team are, from left, Eric Downey, Mike McKay, Ray Schott and Anthony Maio. Photo by Rob Jonas.

The Colonie baseball team thinks it has what it needs to climb the Suburban Council South Division ladder this season.

“I think the goal of any team is to win it,” said first baseman Mike McKay. “We can definitely improve our record.”

Reader poll

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

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

53 total votes.

The Garnet Raiders finished in a tie with Bethlehem for third place in the South Division last year with an 8-8 record, which got them into the Section II Class AA playoffs. But a .500 finish is not what Colonie wants this year.

“Last year was a learning experience, and we made Sectionals,” said coach Kevin Halburian. “I think we can do better this year.”

The only thing that could prevent Colonie from moving up from third place this year is its opposition in the South Division. Guilderland, Bethlehem and defending Sectional champion Columbia all return several players, which will keep them very competitive.

“(First place is) a big step,” said Halburian. It’s not going to be for a lack of effort, I know that.”

The Garnet Raiders return 10 players from last year’s team, including McKay and second team All-Suburban Council outfielder Eric Downey.

“Our offense is going to pick up where it left off last year,” said McKay, who was one of Colonie’s top hitters.”

“We have more bats than we did last year, overall,” said Halburian.

Where Colonie’s strength truly lies is on the pitcher’s mound. The Garnet Raiders return starters Nick Ciccone and Ben Contento, and they’re looking for good things out of newcomers Ryan Nicholson, Cameron Peterson and James Clark.

“We’ll probably go five deep (in our rotation), which is important because some of our early season games have already been pushed back,” said Halburian.

Colonie’s season begins Wednesday at South Division foe Mohonasen. The Garnet Raiders host Averill Park Friday and non-league opponent Pittsfield Saturday.

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