Doane Stuart didn’t have a baseball team in 2015. Now, just two years later, DS has compiled a record of 16-12, had its first winning season of the 2010’s, had the league MVP, and the school’s first perfect game. It has been an incredible run for Coach Wheaton and his team.
This season has been all about setting – and breaking – goals. A conversation about the season with Coach or Michael Jakovic ‘17 of Albany, team captain and CHVL First Team All-Star, inevitably starts with a review of the beginning of the season goals.
Goal 1. Win a Game – This was achieved the third game of the season with a victory over Berlin. DS had a bit of a rough start, though, posting a 1-4 record.
Goal 2. Turn a double play – This is the mark of a team playing strong defense and playing together. Last year’s team, which made it to sections in its first season back after a 5-year program hiatus, turned zero double plays. This year they turned four.
Goal 3. Have a shutout – Last year’s pitching rotation was anchored by Dan Sausto ‘16 of Slingerlands, who had a dominant arm and was crowned league Co-MVP. Even with Dan’s brilliance on the mound, DS failed to record a shutout. This year DS recorded five shutouts out of fourteen games. That is a testament to not just quality pitching, but essential and timely defense in the field. Like the double play goal, it is the mark of a team growing together.
Goal 4. Make it to sectionals – High school baseball in New York is highly competitive in that to make it to sections a team must have a .500 record. Most other sports have a certain number of seeds for the playoffs and therefore a team with a losing record can make it. DS was 7-7 last year, winning three of their last four games in their incredible run to sectionals. It was something that all of Doane Stuart took incredible pride in.
For the second year in a row, DS has achieved this goal and will play in the opening round of sectionals at Whitehall on Thursday, May 18 at 4:00 pm. Whitehall will be a tough game. They are the co-champs of the Adirondack League along with Fort Ann, who DS played in the opening round of sectionals last year. Whitehall and Fort Ann only had one league loss each this season.
Goal 5. Have a winning season – Doane Stuart finished the season 9-5. We believe this was the first winning season in at least seven years. Like last season, DS found itself needing a strong second half to achieve this goal, especially after a 1-4 start. And like last year, our players practiced hard and improved each game. “It’s been a really good season for the team to come together and play,” said Michael Jakovic. “We started out poorly, but improved and got better after spring break. We played better together by the end of the season and really loved the sport more.” This is an understatement by the modest captain. DS finished the season with an 8-1 record, including two four-game winning streaks. They won their final four games of the season, including a run of three nights in a row, which really defined the season. They beat Bishop Maginn behind a two home run night by Sam Kinum ‘17 of Delmar. The next two nights DS then had to play Germantown and Rensselaer, the top two teams in the league. DS beat Germantown 1-0, giving them their first league loss and securing a sectional birth, and then followed it up the next night with a 3-1 victory over Rensselaer, their first overall loss of the season. That win against the previously undefeated top team in the league guaranteed a winning record for DS. It has been that kind of season.
Five goals set in the preseason and all five exceeded. Congratulations to the entire team and coaching staff.
Perfect Game – On Wednesday, May 3, Kyle Jakovic ‘19 of Albany pitched his way into the DS and New York State record books by tossing our school’s first perfect game. DS beat Berlin 15-0 as Kyle only needed 77 pitches while striking out 12. As a reminder, a perfect game is when the opposing team doesn’t record a single baserunner. For comparison, there have only been 23 perfect games in the history of Major League Baseball. It is a feat that takes unbelievable skill from a pitcher, as well as a strong defense backing him up.
CHVL All-Stars – Michael Jakovic ‘17 and Sam Kinum ‘17 were named First Team CHVL All-Stars. Sam will play baseball at Ithaca College starting next spring and Michael will attend the University of Hartford, where he might try to play as a walk-on for their Division I team. Kyle Jakovic ‘19 was named Second Team CHVL All-Star. This was the second time Michael and Kyle earned these honors.
Sam Kinum brought the power for DS with four home runs, eight extra-base hits, 18 RBIs (tied for second on the team, and sported a very impressive .500 batting average and a .938 slugging %. Michael went 4-2 on the season with 32 ⅓ innings pitched, two complete games, with a 1.73 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. He also had the highest batting average on the team at .531 and stole the most bases (16). Kyle led the team in RBIs (19) and had a 1.53 ERA and a sterling .95 WHIP over 13.⅔ innings.
“I am so impressed with how we improved from those first three games, especially defensively,” said Coach Wheaton. “Our guys learned how to play baseball together. We have a group of guys that doesn’t have the opportunity to play together over the summer, and we compete against very strong programs. This makes our season that much more impressive. We can compete with and beat these bigger schools.”
A special thank you from the coaches and players to Jenna Keute ‘18 of West Coxsackie who served as scorekeeper this year. Jenna was new to keeping track of the stats and scoring a game, and her attention to detail and hard work for the team was greatly appreciated.
A tremendous thank you to the parents of all our players who have dealt with an incredibly difficult schedule with more than half the games getting rescheduled or moved. None of our success would be possible without them.
Good luck today and Go Thunder Chickens!!