PB season ends in loss at Monroe-Woodbury

By Kyle Adams
Posted 6/16/21


It was a strange day at Monroe-Woodbury high school on June 9 for the Bushmen, including the resumption of a suspended quarterfinal game, the semifinals, a rain delay and a bad inning that …

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PB season ends in loss at Monroe-Woodbury


It was a strange day at Monroe-Woodbury high school on June 9 for the Bushmen, including the resumption of a suspended quarterfinal game, the semifinals, a rain delay and a bad inning that did in their season.

“We started off the season 0-5, then we won the last twelve of fourteen games and that’s due to our senior leadership here,” said Pine Bush coach Matt Boffalo. “The kids work hard in practice every day, they’re into every game and I can’t ask for anything more.”

The Section 9, Class AA quarterfinal game between Pine Bush and Valley Central was suspended in the top of the seventh inning on June 7, due to darkness. Due to rain on the eighth, they were forced to finish the game at Monroe-Woodbury on June 9, with the winner moving on to face the Crusaders an hour later.

A walk to Maxmillion Demar and a RBI triple from Gunnar Meland gave Pine Bush a 12-11 lead over VC, in the one inning they played. Alex Bucolo slammed the door on the Vikings in the bottom of the seventh with a one-two-three inning.

“We had a great game with Valley Central and I’m glad that we were able to finish it quickly and not have to go into extra innings today. That would have been tough.” Boffalo said in between games, noting that he was surprised VC pitchers gave Meland - one of the best hitters in the section - a pitch to hit with a chance to take the lead.

“Yes. Yes I am, but they did and he took advantage of it,” Boffalo said. “You know, it’s high school baseball, so he very easily could have popped out. He’s a good hitter and he did his job.”

Monroe-Woodbury took the semifinal game by a score of 8-3, advancing to face Newburgh in the AA championship.

The Bushmen came out to an early lead, with two runs in the top of the first inning, but they couldn’t hold it. A four-run, bottom of the sixth for the Crusaders blew the game open.

“It’s very hard, after being so invested in the first game, to have to get back up for the second game, but it’s one-and-done, so it’s something we needed to do,” Boffalo said. “We scored two runs and went ahead, but we couldn’t hold the lead; Monroe’s a great team and very well-coached.”

Meland led the way for Pine Bush in the semis, going 3-for-3 with two doubles, two runs, a walk and a web-gem in centerfield. Edward Garmendiz was 3-for-4 with a double and three RBIs.

“They were putting together some good at-bats and we were having trouble throwing strikes,” Boffalo said, as he tried to find someone to stop the bleeding in Monroe’s four-run sixth. “They came up with some timely hits and you just have to tip your cap to them. We put ourselves in a hole by not throwing strikes and they made us pay.”

Trio is college bound
Three Bushmen are currently committed to play baseball in college, with Meland getting the Division 1 nod. He will head to Siena College, a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

“He can go get it in the outfield and he’s got all the tools to be successful. He’s actually the only outfielder that we brought in,” said Siena Head Coach, Tony Rossi. “We’re not digging for another one because we feel like we got the right one to help us.”

Rossi is expecting there to be some spots available in the outfield, with the possibility of losing a player (Evan St. Claire) to the MLB Draft.

“He’s going to get time; we rotate our outfielders a lot anyway. We’re really happy that he’s here,” Rossi said, adding that he’s happy to bring in a multi-sport athlete. “We like guys that are football players because they’re tougher kids and they’re able to accept failure, so that’s an added bonus. He said he really wanted to play baseball and that’s when we locked into him.”

For Meland, the new start means saying goodbye to the coaches and players he grew up with.
“Probably the coaches and the kids I’ve grown up playing with, is what I’m going to miss the most. I’ve played with a lot of these guys for like ten years now and this is the end.” Meland said after the loss to Monroe. “I’m excited to play at the next level and keep playing the game that I love. It’s a great opportunity at Siena and I’m going to make the most it.”

Joe Croce, a catcher for Pine Bush, is going to play for Ulster County Community College.

“It means a lot because I get to play at the next level. Baseball’s been the game that I’ve loved since I was a little kid,” Croce said, who felt similar to Meland about having to leave the Bushmen program. “I’ve played with these guys since I was eight years old, so it’s just sad that this is our final year together and this is was our last game.”

It was that bond that Croce credits in helping Pine Bush turn around their season after the bad start.
“It was definitely the brothership and knowing how to play as a team and not just for yourself,” he said. “When we play together, we’re a really good baseball team.”

Ethan Vellenga, a pitcher, will be headed in the same direction as Meland – to Albany. Vellenga will be playing for Russell Sage College next year.

“I actually played in tournaments when I was younger with a lot of the kids I’m going to play with in college,” Vellenga explained. “We’ll be talking baseball and be realizing, hey ‘I played you guys when we were younger.’ We had no idea, but you talk about you past games and everything just clicks and we’re already starting to bond, just from those past experiences.”

Vellenga credits one of his private coaches, Joe Wladyka, in helping him with getting his pitching mechanics right over the years and getting him on a path to compete at the college level.

“He critiqued me in everything, helped with my mechanics and my confidence on the mound. He helped make me the pitcher I am today.” Vellenga said. “It means everything really, getting to play in college. Coming out and playing baseball is what I love to do.”


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