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Monday, June 9, 2014: Following up on weekend baseball, softball

   Leading off today: Vindication? Relief? Guts? Recklessness? Pure luck? Old-school baseball?

   There was plenty of chatter last week after Rye sophomore George Kirby threw 153 pitches in a Section 1 baseball playoff game -- and the discussion didn't end this weekend. It merely changed when he needed to expend just 77 pitches (53 strikes) worth of effort in a 12-0 win over Maine-Endwell in the NYSPHSAA quarterfinals.

   Coach Mike Bruno admitted he felt the stress in the aftermath of the Section 1 final. He heard the criticism about Kirby's extended outing and struggled with his decision to keep Kirby in for all seven innings vs. Lakeland.

   "The week was tough, I'm not going to lie," Bruno told MSG Varsity after the win vs. M-E. "I internalize a little bit and that's just the way I am. I probably wouldn't do it again. It was the situation and maybe you had to be there to understand it. But I live with what I did."

   Rye advanced to a state semifinal vs. Averill Park on Saturday at Union-Endicott, and Kirby will certainly be ready to go on a week's rest, whether it's in the semifinal or in a possible title game for the Garnets against the survivor between Pittsford Sutherland and Bayport-Blue Point.

   Kirby was outstanding vs. M-E, allowing five hits and no walks while striking out six to improve to 10-0.

   "I felt fine today; it's like I threw a normal game last week," Kirby told The Journal News. "It doesn't take away anything from us, what we did over the whole season."

   So what's the takeaway from the week of discussion, debate, commentary and criticism. The fact the Kirby sparkled in the first outing after the 153-pitch game doesn't mean he didn't do some sort of damage (long- or short-term) to his right arm, but it is also a pretty good indication the episode amounted to the classic "no harm, no foul."

   The fact is, though, that we still don't have absolute evidence regarding what the limit should be even though a lot of people (and that includes me) are sure that anything over 110 or 120 pitches is too long a day even for a guy not throwing over the range of 85 mph. On the other hand, we're in the midst of yet another wave of major-league pitchers and top prospects undergoing the dreaded "Tommy John surgery" even though nearly every one of them has been on a pitch count since the day they signed their first pro contract.

   So what is means is that it's time to call off the hounds and let Bruno, Kirby and the Garnets focus on Saturday at U-E.

   A long wait: Sacred Heart blanked Nazareth 3-0 on Sunday to capture its first CHSAA Class A baseball title in

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    19 seasons.

       David Hurley (11-0 with a sub-1.00 ERA) held Nazareth to just five hits. He struck out 10 batters.

       She's got a future: Freshman left-hander Rachel Hall threw a no-hitter against the No. 1-ranked team in the state Saturday in the NYSPHSAA softball tournament.

       The Greenwich 14-year-old struck out eight and walked three in a 2-0 win over previously beaten St. Lawrence in the Class C quarterfinals.

       "The last time I threw a no-hitter was back on modified, and having one in varsity is just indescribable," Hall told The Post-Star. "I'm just so happy for me, my team, my coaches and our community."

       Greenwich is making its fourth straight trip to the state semifinals next weekend, and they appear to have a pitcher who can take them to at least a couple of more.

       "Amazing job -- who'd think a freshman would come in and have that, Greenwich coach Greg McGuirk said. "She's tough, she's disciplined, she's confident and she's selfless -- she's a kid that cares about this team. She wants to win, but she wants them to win. That's what I love about her."

       Another close call: After winning the Section 1 title by one run with the help of late-game errors by Brewster, Pearl River scored twice in the eighth inning vs. Maine-Endwell in Friday's state playoffs opener -- and still had to hang on to win by a run.

       The Pirates used up another of their lives Saturday vs. Marlboro by squandering a three-run lead, rallying to tie with two outs in the seventh and winning 8-5 in nine innings. That advanced them to meet Sayville in the state semifinals Saturday in Glens Falls.

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