CORNING - After a 3-1 record in sectional play that included two road victories, the Hawks will battle Kingston of Section IX Thursday at 4 p.m. in the sub-regional round of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association tournament at Saugerties High School.
Kingston won its fourth-straight Section IX title with a dominating 10-0 victory over Pine Bush and finished its regular season 17-3. Although Corning head coach Eric Kizis doesn't have a wealth of information on the Tigers, he’s heard nothing but positive reviews on the Section IX champions.
“Right now my knowledge on them is limited, but I know they’re a good quality team,” Corning head coach Eric Kizis said. “At this point though, I don’t think you’re going to see a lot of 11-11 teams in this tournament anymore.”
Corning, the No. 4 seed in the Section IV Class AA tournament (out of four) finished the regular season with an 8-10 mark, but heads into the state tournament having upset No.1 seeded Horseheads (15-3) and winning two straight games over No. 2 Ithaca (12-5) after dropping game one of a best-of-three series.
One of the main reasons for the Hawks’ success is their ability in high-pressure situations. Corning has played in one-run games in the later innings of both elimination games in hostile territory and have been victorious each time.
“Our backs have been against the wall a little bit and our kids have learned to play in that respect and they’re ready to go,” said Kizis. “They’ve jumped a ton of hurdles to get where we’re at right now. Our kids are used to playing with adversity, we’ve faced it and we’ve come out on top.”
The playoffs have come with a new found confidence after derailing two of the top two teams in the section.
“Right now, all I know is in the last four postseason games we’re 3-1,” Corning head coach Eric Kizis said. “That’s what we’re building off. We’re a 3-1 team in the postseason over two high-quality baseball teams.”
As mentioned, Corning has played its best baseball on the road. Corning edged out Horseheads 3-2 and topped Ithaca 5-4 at Ithaca College in Game 3, which was labled a “neutral field”.
Against Kingston will be no different, with Corning making the three-hour drive to Saugerties High School. The game is at a “neutral field” but is 23 minutes away from Kingston High Scool. The two teams will coin flip to determine the “home team”.
A key in the two Corning road victories has been the play of senior slugger Adam Zingler. Zingler, at the leadoff spot, is 3 for 6 with three walks and has scored three of the eight total runs scored in the two elimination games for the Hawks and will be key against Kingston.
“For me personally, that’s my job as a leadoff hitter is to get on,” said Zingler. “Any way I can find to get on, I have to do it. Every time I get on, we find a way to get me around in the first inning. That first run is important.”
Zingler was a younger player the last time Corning baseball won a Section IV Class AA title in 2016 - a game they won who also played Kingston in the regional round, a game Corning won - and had simple advice for the younger players on his team.
"What I tell them is to enjoy the experience," said Zingler. "It's great baseball from here on out, we're facing some great teams. Everybody's expectations are still the same as they were as the start of the postseason, not expecting us to do much. I just tell them to do the same thing I'm going to do. Enjoy the experience and make a memory that will last a lifetime."