Conner Shows No Mercy on Mound

TROY, April 19 – Lefthander Chris Conner (Colonie) mastered the Schenectady County Community College hitters this afternoon, leading the Vikings to a mercy-rule victory. The second-year pitcher struck out eight and unofficially allowed just six hits as Hudson Valley Community College defeated its Mountain Valley Conference rival 9-1 in seven innings.

Hudson Valley, who entered the game ranked ninth in the nation among NJCAA Division III teams, improved to 19-6 overall and 6-3 in conference action. The loss dropped Schenectady to 11-6 and 7-3. Conner is now 3-1 with one save.

"Conner competed and threw very well," Vikings head coach Tom Reinisch said. "That's one of the better hitting teams in Region III – I'd say one of the top two – and they didn't get many good swings on him. And that's what they do. They don't pitch well, they hit the ball. To hold them to one run in seven innings is fantastic."

Schenectady got on the scoreboard first, in the top of the third inning. The Royals loaded the bases courtesy of two singles and an error, and Conner then issued a one-out walk, forcing in the first run of the game. That was all Schenectady would get though, as Conner buckled down, picking up a strikeout and a ground out to end the inning.

And he was also a central part of a Hudson Valley rally in the bottom of the same frame. Infielder Chris Yager (Amsterdam) led off with a single. Then, after a Hudson Valley out, Conner stepped up and helped his own cause, rapping a 400-foot shot to centerfield. The Schenectady outfielder misplayed the ball – it bounced off his glove as he backpedaled – and Conner wound up on third. He then scored the go-ahead run on a Jarred Kussler (Troy) single.

"We usually bounce back," Conner said. "If we get down, we're going to fight back."

The Vikings scored three more runs before the end of the third, taking a 5-1 lead. Jeff Lackaye (Kingston) contributed an RBI single and Mike Donahue (Lansingburgh) added a two-run single. In all, Hudson Valley sent 10 batters to the plate in the third and managed five hits.

"We peppered them to death," Reinisch said. "Until we got a few pitches up that we could really hang."

While Conner handcuffed Schenectady at the plate, his teammates pushed across two more runs in the fourth and seventh innings. Danny Soto (Wappinger Falls), Wes Dedrick (Columbia) and Aaron Teeter (Cohoes) all hit deep blasts. But since Hudson Valley has no fence, Soto ended up with a double; Dedrick and Teeter stopped at third.

"In any other park besides ours, they'd have been home runs," Reinisch said.

Unofficially, Hudson Valley had 11 hits – two from Kussler, Teeter and Donahue. The game ended with two outs in the bottom of the seventh when Justin Beach (Columbia), running for Donahue, scored on a double steal, putting Hudson Valley ahead by eight runs. In nine-inning college baseball games, there is an eight-run mercy rule.

After the contest, Hudson Valley athletic director Drew Marrochello presented Reinisch with a plaque honoring his 100th career win. The fifth-year coach notched victory No. 100 against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's JV squad last week.

"You guys are the ones who do this," said Reinisch, addressing his players as he held the plaque. "You're the ones who hit and catch."

Hudson Valley Community College, located in Troy, offers more than 50 degree and certificate programs in four academic divisions; Business; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Sciences; and Liberal Arts and Sciences. One of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, Hudson Valley has an enrollment of more than 9,000 students each year, and is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and worker retraining.