High School Sports

Rule Number 76: Play Like a Warrior!

Tell them it wasn’t easy.
When they look back on their 16 wins, tell them we never took a single one for granted.
Teach them about our passion and our patience.
If they ask who was our star, give them 20 names.
If you forget our names, just tell them we were Warriors.
And in the season of our lives, we became a team.
A team that made people believe that baseball could be magic.
And men could be perfect.

If ever there was a team of destiny, it is the Liverpool Warriors. A high school baseball program built on tradition and pride, the Warriors first experienced great success during the 1970’s. Since that time, heroes, new ones, emerged with each passing decade. Some rising to the moment, other’s simply rising out of nowhere. In the last 30 years one team has stood alone, becoming the model of how to build a powerhouse baseball program and how to play the game of baseball.

Successful all of those years, it had been six seasons since the school’s last Section III Title coming into the 2006 campaign. New optimism was present early during the 2005 off season. With a gritty, hard core of returning seniors, who although may have not been the best players, were the best people to gel together a relatively young and inexperienced team.

Coming off an 18-2 Junior Varsity season, confidence was high for the underclassmen. It was known just about every player on that team could play the game. But could these players turn JV success into Varsity success?

Most of the players on that team felt confident in their abilities to do so. The question was how fast could the transition be made and with whom?

Starting July 6th, 2005, 6:30 weight room sessions were in order Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with batting practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the entire summer. Once school started up again, there was never a let down as lifting continued and hitting was moved to Saturdays.

By the time March rolled around, the most successful off season in the program’s storied history had taken place with a bunch of no name players.

Confidence was high.

For the past four seasons, the Varsity squad has made its annual trip to play in a tournament in Myrtle Beach, SC. But with the recent unsuccessful attempts at Sectional Tittles and with tensions growing, Coach Terzini felt it was necessary to make the team earn their trip to Myrtle Beach in April 2006.

800 total attendences of every player in the weight room and at hitting sessions was needed from September 6th to March 8th. On March 5th, 3 days before Day One of tryouts, the goal was accomplished and a new standard had already been set for Liverpool Baseball without throwing one pitch and taking one swing of the bat.

The trip to Myrtle Beach overall was successful. Coming home 3-1 everything seemed to be going Liverpool’s way. But just as with any team, or any season, there was the ups followed by brutal downs.

A home loss to foe FM after a game winning grand slam was followed by another loss to state powerhouse Union Endicott. Since both games were non-league, meaning they didn’t count to the sectional record, none of the players on the team really thought too much of the losses at the time.

They were wrong to do so.

Halfway through a lackadaisical practice on the following Monday, Terzini kicked the entire team right off the field, screaming, “GET OFF MY FIELD! GET OFF IT ALL OF YOU! YOU GUTLESS BASTARDS! YOU HAVE NO BALLS, NONE OF YOU!”

That sure got the team going as a squad. No one was going to accept the fact that they had just gotten kicked off their own field during their own practice by none other than their own coach.

A turning point in the season?  

One of them.

But it definitely helped carry the team to victories over all their opponents before their game with arch rival CNS.

Coming into the game, both teams were 9-0, looking to win the League Title and secure a #1 seed in the playoffs. After jumping on CNS’ ace early, a dropped fly ball in centerfield would prove to be the fallout for Liverpool and the Warriors would squander yet another game they very well could have, or maybe should have won.

Followed by that loss was an embarrassing home loss to Johnson City, who was also a class lower than the Warriors. After that loss nobody wanted to lose again, even if it was just another non-league defeat. The team knew they still had a shot at a Sectional Title after CNS was defeated by Utica Proctor and a #2 seed still seed seemed very likely.

A two seed is exactly what happened and after CNS was knocked out of the Sectional Playoffs by yet again Proctor, the Warriors were now in control of their own destiny. After two more victories, Liverpool was back in the Sectional Final game.

Liverpool seemed to have the momentum early but it was subtle centerfield decision by Terzini that would make all the difference. After deciding to stick with his starting centerfielder, who was hitting on the interstate, his decision would prove successful. Three RBI’s and one run scored later, a player who had dropped a routine fly ball to lose a league game to CNS had come back to drive in the winning runs for a Sectional Title. The first for Liverpool since 1999.

A trip to the Regional Final was now intact. After four innings, Liverpool held a 4-0 lead and it would remain that way until the 6th when Colonie, NY would finally get to the Warriors’ starting pitcher, knocking him out after surrendering one run. Heading to the bottom of the 7th it was 4-1, three outs away from a trip to the New York State Final Four and the Warriors’ #1 ace on the mound.

Everything after that happened so fast, it is almost a blur now. For the first and only time all season, Liverpool would experience a complete total team meltdown that they could ultimately not recover from.

After tying the game in the 7th, Colonie would go on to win the game in the 9th 5-4, crushing the hopes and dreams of Liverpool players, coaches, parents, and fans alike.

Seeing the Colonie players celebrate immediately brought back memories of Aaron Boone hitting a walk off homer in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS vs. the Red Sox.

Crushing. Tears.  Disappointment.


As hard as it is, after experiencing such success and joy as Liverpool did in 2006, the program must now move on and make the transition into the 2006 off season.

With the Sectional Title a new standard was set at Liverpool. The pride and tradition was finally restored. Decades of torch passing has resulted in great success for a Central New York school. But now a new philosophy will be introduced to the program at the team banquet on June 18th.

No longer is a Sectional Title acceptable. Liverpool will now look towards bigger and better things. Never has a team from this area won States. That is all looking to be changed now. The next time a dog pile happens will be when Liverpool captures its first State Title. Hopefully that is next year.

Call the new philosophy what you want. Call it cocky, call it unachievable, you could even say its Yankees style baseball.

The torch has already been passed and plans for the 2006 post season have already begun. After a dream season that ended in disappointment, one can only wonder what is in store for this group of ballplayers who have the confidence and swagger to do big things in the coming year on and off the baseball field.

Who will step up? Can the group of players continue to gel and improve with the long off season ahead? Let the challenges begin again.

As proved with this group of no name players, impossible is nothing after all. They will be back because there was no failure in defeat. Only pride in how far they came.

Copyright ©2006 Colin Cerniglia. All Rights Reserved.

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