Ticonderoga baseball coach Dan Dorsett sweats the small stuff and, by his own admission, is wound a little tighter than his team.
But the Sentinels have embraced the differences and made their second consecutive State Baseball Tournament final four. They face Gananda, of Section V, in a Class C semifinal at 2 p.m. Friday at Maine-Endwell High School.
Ti (17-2) reached the state final last year, losing to Avon, 6-5. Such a thing would be natural motivation, but Dorsett wanted to keep his players short-sighted.
“I didn’t want to think about it,” he said of the state-final loss. “Let’s see if we can win the first game of the year and then see if we can win the second.”
Early on, however, he noticed the Sentinels were hitting the ball very well. Then came an April 25 game against Class B Peru, resulting in an 8-4 win.
“We faced the best pitching we had all year to that point and we had to make some baseball plays. At that point I thought we could be good,” Dorsett said.
Ti returned nearly everyone from last year’s team, so talent was never in doubt, but Dorsett is glad he saw his team’s mental game improve.
“Seeing them more focused and not dwelling on bad times,” Dorsett said. “We lost a high-scoring game to Beekmantown and also lost to Saranac. That was a little bit of a wake-up call. But it was almost like they were looking forward to this part of the season.”
The proof is in the scores. Ti earned the Section VII crown with a 5-0 semifinal win over AuSable Valley and a 15-0 final win over Lake Placid. It got a bye into the regional finals, where it got the better of previously undefeated Fort Plain, 9-1. It took five innings to do so, but the Sentinels used their mantra of drawing first blood and putting pressure on other teams to respond to them.
Some of the leaders for Ti include pitcher/centerfielder Russell Gallo III, a first-team all-state selection last year; pitcher/third baseman Michael DuShane, also an all-stater last year; catcher Jack Grinnell and second baseman Nick Robarge-Greene. Dorsett said Gallo will be the starting pitcher for the semifinal.
Dorsett also is glad that so many of his players know the routine of playing in a state tournament.
“We’re going to be used to all the distractions,” he said.
As he assessed his team’s strengths, Dorsett noted its camaraderie and low-key demeanor.
“They keep me relaxed,” he said, “because I’m a more stressed guy.”