Give Alex Ortiz an inch and he’ll take 270 feet.
You’ve heard of baseball players who routinely turn a walk into a double by stealing second base? Well, the junior centerfielder at Rochester’s East High turns every solid knock at the plate into a quest to reach third base – more often than not doing so standing up.
Ortiz may be down to his final crack at the national scholastic record for triples in a season on Friday when the Orientals take on Churchville-Chili in the Section V Class AA playoffs.
Marcus Way of Honeoye set the presumed state record of 12 triples in a season in 2007. Ortiz hit his 16th triple last week to tie the 1976 mark of Steve Kopepasch of Marlow, Okla., according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.
Ortiz has had three two-triple games this season, and coach Kyle Crandall can recall just two three-baggers this spring that required Ortiz to slide. Furthermore, he has not been thrown out at third all season.
If the Orientals (20-4) get past the Saints (9-11) on Friday they’ll play the winner of Greece Athena vs. Brockport in the semifinals.
More Baseball: Another heroic showing for grieving pitcher
* Jordan Wiener continues to amaze in the PSAL Class B playoffs. The Robert F. Kennedy senior struck out 19 batters to beat Alfred E. Smith, 3-2, in the PSAL Class B tournament in Queens on Tuesday.
It was his first outing since a five-inning no-hitter with 14 Ks against Prospect Heights a day after the funeral for his father, Mitchell Wiener, the Queens assistant principal who became the first from New York City to die from the swine flu.
"It's been nerve-wracking for me, but I just try to keep my emotions aside," Wiener told The Daily News. "I keep a cool head and just pitch."
* Shenendehowa capped its regular season by beating Queensbury, 11-2, in non-league action for career victory No. 300 for coach Jim Carrese.
"It really is a big deal because it’s been a 19-year process of building a program,” Carrese told The Saratogian. "We’ve preached family first, school second and baseball third as a motto here and we’ve had some tremendous kids who have bought into that philosophy."
Brandon Cogswell and David Wixted hit home runs to help Carrese run his record to 300-148.
* George Washington, nationally ranked by USA Today before this week, is out of the PSAL Class A tournament following a 5-0 loss to James Monroe in the quarterfinals.
Junior right-hander Rikeltin Batista, who hadn't thrown a meaningful inning in a month, was brought in to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning and protected a four-run lead with 4 2/3 innings of three-hit, two-strikeout relief.
The Eagles (17-2) got to GW starter Nestor Bautista early with three extra-base hits and a single. The big blow was a two-run double by junior infielder Wander Almonte from the Dominican Republic.
* Fifth-seeded Albion averted disaster against No. 12 seed Sweet Home by scoring four runs in the bottom of the seventh for a 5-4 victory Wednesday in the Section VI Class A round of 16. Senior outfielder Tom Hicks (for-2, two RBIs) scored from second on an error to break a 4-4 tie for the Purple Eagles, who climbed to third in the NYSSWA rankings released earlier in the day.
* Senior Nick Ferri played all nine positions for Duanesburg team this season. He completed the feat by catching in the first inning of Friday’s 7-6 win against Sharon Springs.
* Schenectady catcher Alex Jurczynski has thrown out 21 of 24 attempted base stealers in his senior season.
* Ralph Clapp, 226-76-1 in 15 seasons as coach at Honeoye Falls-Lima, has announced he will step down next month. He is a two-time Section V coach of the year.
Football: Bishop Kearney star heading for ACC
Virginia Tech has come into upstate to land a highly-regarded recruit, the fourth New York junior to make a verbal commitment to a Division I program thus far.
Jerome Lewis, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound tight end and defensive end from Bishop Kearney in Rochester, is the eighth player overall to commit to Virginia Tech for 2010 according to The Roanoke (Va) Times.
Lewis also had offers from East Carolina, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Purdue and Syracuse.
Other New Yorkers known to have made non-binding commitments are Pittsford tight end Sean Fitzpatrick (Maryland), Syracuse CBA guard Macky MacPherson (Syracuse) and Lawrence quarterback John Kinder (Syracuse). Seniors can sign a National Letter of Intent and scholarship papers in February.
Boys Lacrosse: Class B back up for grabs?
Conventional wisdom throughout the season said that Corning East may have had the best chance of anyone to earn a New York State Public High School Athletic Association championship in the sport this spring. The Trojans brought back an experienced roster, scrimmaged a number of quality teams and were rolling through their regular-season schedule.
Class B appeared to be theirs for the taking.
And then a blip appeared in the form of a 14-11 loss to Ithaca late week.
There’s no shame in losing to a Class A team, and Ithaca is in fact ranked 13th in the state among large schools. But large-school lacrosse in Section IV has never been anything to write home about, and the Southern Tier has traditionally been easy pickings for West Genesee or Fayetteville-Manlius of Section III in the state quarterfinals.
So while Ithaca – led by 45-goal scorer Torin Varn and goaltending standout A.J. Fiore -- raised its profile and stature with the victory, Corning East is now a bit of a question mark.
Niskayuna (which scored a 13-9 win over Averill Park on Wednesday for its third straight Section II Class B title) has moved ahead of the Trojans in the New York State Sportswriters Association rankings, Canandaigua has improved steadily since a mid-April, 9-6 loss to Corning East and the Long Island survivor – likely Garden City, Shoreham-Wading River or Rockville Centre South Side – is always a handful in the tournament finals.
So it remains to be seen whether Corning East can win its first championship since Class B.
* Troy had never won a sectional game since fielding its first varsity squad in 1990. That ended Friday with an 8-4 victory against Amsterdam in a Section II Class B play-in game. Nic Capano posted three goals and two assists for the Flying Horses,
John Schiano, who has written about high school sports in western and central New York for more than 25 years, covers New York for MaxPreps. He may be reached at email@example.com.