Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Verona wins Home Talent League title

VERONA – There’s the curse of the Bambino.

The curse of the Billy Goat.

And the curse of the Cavalier?

“I don’t call it a curse,” said Verona manager Dale Burgenske. “It’s just that we got beat by better teams all those other years. The team that gets the best pitching and the best hitting and the best defense, and has that little Irish luck in there, that’s the difference in winning the pennant and maybe losing one or two games.”

Whether it’s a curse or not, one thing is for sure, the streak is over. Verona won their first ever Home Talent League championship on Sunday.

Since Burgenske has taken over management of the team, the Cavaliers have been to the league’s “Final Four” in six out of the past eight years and haven’t been able to cash in until this year.

Verona got by the Utica Association by a score of 6-1 in a championship series that was extended to an extra game due to both teams having identical 2-1 records at the end of round robin play.
Superior play in all phases of the game led to the victory.

The hard hitting Cavaliers pounded out 13 hits, while starting pitcher Matt Niffenegger scattered seven hits over nine innings.

Stolen bases led to runners in scoring position, and even right fielder Zach Spencer’s diving catch to record the last out of the game highlighted the team’s defensive prowess.

As has been the case throughout the championship series, the bottom of Verona’s order came up big once again in the final and deciding game.

“(Nick) Krohn, (Bill) Engelhart and (Dan) Koss were really super in the last two or three games,” said Burgenske. “That’s why you win is when you can execute like that. That’s the name of the game.”

It certainly was a team effort, though.

“We’ve had pretty much this core group of guys for awhile now,” said Krohn. “We didn’t have too much turnover over the past couple years, but it feels so good to do it with these guys.”

Utica had two chances to end the series but just couldn’t get it done. After having lost to Verona at home the week prior, the Association’s job got much harder when they had to travel to Utica on Sunday.

“You can’t beat these guys with one run,” said Utica manager Dale Vike. “They hit the ball. We knew it going in.”

Verona ended their streak of years without a championship in 2008. The Red Sox ended theirs in 2004. Could the Cubs be next?

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