Coaches well aware that regular-season results mean little in playoff rematch

By: Mike Moore | Troy Times | Published June 1, 2011

 Pitcher Brandon Wallis and the Troy High baseball team are 2-0 against Rochester High this season. The Colts look to go 3-0 June 4 in a district semifinal.

Pitcher Brandon Wallis and the Troy High baseball team are 2-0 against Rochester High this season. The Colts look to go 3-0 June 4 in a district semifinal.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


It’s a common theme, or cliché, that the two coaches have been stressing with their respective teams for more than a week now.

The message is the same, but the motivation behind it couldn’t be different.

“They always say how hard it is to beat a team for the third time; well, that’s something we’re focusing on,” Rochester High baseball coach Eric Magiera said last week in regards to his team’s June 4 district semifinal game against Troy High. “We hope to use that thought in our favor.”

“I’ve heard that as well, and we know we can’t put any focus on the first two games,” Troy skipper Jim Ellis said. “I expect a whole different Rochester team this time around. It’s going to be a tough assignment.”

When the teams face off at noon at Utica High, a trip to a Division 1 district final will be on the line. In the first two meetings of the season, Troy emerged victorious by scores of 8-1 and 7-5 in games Magiera admitted were never seriously in doubt.

He hopes to have the wildcard this time around in the form of his No. 1 pitcher, senior Nick Bradley.

“It worked out when we played them both times that he had pitched earlier in the week,” Magiera said of Bradley, who was 4-1 at press time with an ERA of .17. “We’ve been hitting the ball better lately, so we feel if we can put it in play, we’re going to have a great chance to win.”

Magiera and the Falcons were 12-14 at press time.

The Colts, 13-9-1, are well aware of the opponent that will take the mound against them.

“We’ve seen pitchers like him, but certainly not him,” Ellis said. “We can’t be intimidated by what he can do. We have to approach things very aggressively. It’s a tough assignment, for sure, but if we do the little things right — bunt when we need to and move runners around, for example — we’ll have a great chance to win.”

Asked frankly if he believes in the whole “tough to beat a team three times” cliché or if it’s more of a tool to garner confidence in his guys, Magiera said, “both.”

“We’ve seen in happen before,” he stressed.

A year ago, the Falcons reached the district final and faced a Troy Athens team they were 0-2 against during the regular season and not soon after added a district championship trophy.

Colts and Falcons Part II

Troy’s and Rochester’s baseball teams won’t be the only ones from the two schools facing off June 4.

The softball teams will do likewise in the Utica district semifinal. The first pitch scheduled for 10 a.m.

The only difference in this matchup, though, is the teams will be seeing each other for the first time, thanks to Mother Nature washing out a scheduled doubleheader.

“That’s a good team with a lot of seniors who I know can hit the ball,” Troy coach Tom Calnen said of Rochester. “They also have a good pitcher who can move the ball around real well. It’s going to be an interesting game. It should be a good one.”

Troy, which is loaded with youth and had played just 22 of its 35 scheduled games this season, was 12-10 at press time.

Rochester was 18-13.

“The strength of our team this season has been hitting,” Falcons skipper Jennifer Morgan said of her squad, which has four girls hitting over .350 and two over .400. “We know Troy doesn’t have the same pitching they’ve had in the past, so we’re going to rely on our offense to carry us.”