The Battle of the Birds: Eagles and Silverhawks return to Cobb’s Hill in a barnburner

The Battle of the Birds: Eagles and Silverhawks return to Cobb’s Hill in a barnburner

[5/21/21 School of the Arts runner scores at the East Eagles vs. SOTA Silverhawks game at Cobb’s Hill. All photos by David Kramer]

On March 9th, 2020, RCAC baseball is just around the corner anticipated a high school baseball season that never was. Happily, city baseball is back in full swing.


Today, in perhaps the biggest regular season game of the year — the Battle of the Birds II– the East Eagles (6-3 overall; 4-1 league) and the School of the Arts Silverhawks  (5-6 overall; 4-2 league) met at the Culver Road field at Cobb’s Hill for the first time since 2019. In Birds I at the East field, also on Culver Road, the ‘Hawks prevailed 12 – 8.


Cobb’s Hill (top left) 5/14/21 SOTA defeated Leadership Academy 13-2 (top right) 5/15 after SOTA’s 8am practice.  I  asked Joaquin Diaz (top left on bleacher) if the 8am practice was too early: “It’s not too early, but it is early.” (bottom right) 5/14 As ever, SOTA supporter Michelle Lepki was keeping score; (bottom left) Michelle keeping at the May 26th, 2018 game from Keeping score at Cobb’s Hill [Photos: David Kramer]

5/14/21 East practice before the Wilson game. East won 14 – 4; (m,r) Coach Kyle Crandall throws and Luis Rivera swings.
View from the press box (middle) [Photos: David Kramer]

5/14/21 View from the press box. (middle) Quentin Gordon-Smith squares to bunt (left) ball (top left corner) hit directly towards the press box [Photos: David Kramer, see New Press Box scoreboard keeper coveteth a coveted microphone]

The perfect evening drew a large and sometimes raucous crowd who stayed to the dramatic end. The sights and sounds of the popular basket games played at the adjacent Tony Boler Courts add to the energized atmosphere of Cobb’s Hill baseball. The game was actually a double header of sorts as the East/SOTA softball teams also played on Field #4.

(left) Eagles baseball v. Silverhawks baseball on Field # 1 ;(right) Eagles softball v. Silverhawks softball on Field # 4

(left) Pastor Cuevas Walker, Director of GO Ministries. In contrast to the non-stop action of basketball, Cuevas enjoys the slower pace of baseball requiring close observation. He says baseball is fundamentally a game of timing, esp. in the duel between pitcher and batter. (right) Cuevas watched his nephew Israel Sullivan (# 9, OF • Sr. • 6′ 0″ • 180 lbs) play leftfield for East.

SOTA School Sentry Joshua Grant (left) and SOTA Athletic Director David Michelson. Joshua’s role is to keep the peace, but he’s never encountered any problems.

(left) East assistant coach Brett Crandall keeping score; (right) SOTA supporter Michelle Lepki keeping score.

SOTA’s 8th grader Moses Aponte charting pitches. The league mandates strict pitch counts so it’s up to Moses to alert everyone when the pitcher nears his limit. In rear, David Michelson and Michelle Lepki.

Like most East/SOTA games, today’s was a high spirited affair. After three innings, East held a 3 – 1 lead.

SOTA players watch as Justin Rodriguez dodges inside pitch. His teammates told Justin to take one for the team.

(left) Umpire making the strike signal; (right) SOTA catcher Abel Austin attempting to throw out runner stealing second. He was safe.

SOTA’s Austin is called out on the play. In this snapshot moment, East’s Christian Diaz appears to miss the tag, but it’s too close to say definitively.

SOTA rallied with 6 runs in the fifth inning. The big play was a long drive with the bases loaded over the outfielder’s heads. The hit would have been a grand slam, but rolled into Culver Road, and was ruled a grounds rule double.

East’s Coach Kyle Crandall conferring with umpires about the ball that rolled into Culver Road.

In the seventh inning, East made a heroic 5 run comeback to tie the game at 12-12.

Coach Crandall at work. (top left) During a timeout with men on first and second, Crandall reminds the runner that the infield rule is in effect; (top right) Crandall replaces third base after Tomas Hernandez knocked the bag loose. (bottom left) Crandall congratulates Victor Arroyo after a big hit during the seventh inning rally; (bottom right) Crandall tells runner to stay put during the rally.

(left) Crandall conferring with base runners Arroya and Rafael Rosado during a timeout in the seventh inning; (right) With the comeback in full force, Crandall gives directions

East players gather after tying the game at 12 – 12.

In the bottom of the seventh with two outs and a runner on third, a single to center won the game for SOTA, 13 – 12.

SOTA celebrates, including the traditional water cooler dousing.

With his team and assistant coaches, Coach Crandall reviews the hard fought “Battle of the Birds” that could have gone either way.

When the City Tournament rolls around in a couple of weeks, keep your eyes out for the Battle of the Birds, Part III.

East baseball


East baseball continues its storied tradition


New Press Box scoreboard keeper coveteth a coveted microphone


East falls just short. And views from the press box

No longer undefeated, East bounces back nicely

Eagles (8-0) win East Tournament; pizza for all

East beats Lyons to stay unbeaten; Crandall retrieves balls and sweeps home plate

Bundled up loyalists at Cobb’s Hill watch East stay undefeated.

Joel Alicea throws second straight no-hitter; three generations celebrate at East

Excitement grows on Culver Road as East wins third straight. Bishop Kearney is next.

Following a historic season, East baseball opens with back-to-back no hitters.


Congratulations East on a magical season. So Jefferson and Rocky DiPonzio’s 1980 mark still stands.

A coach who cares. And wondering if East won

East’s sun still shining

East baseball takes the show on the road. Destination Cincinnati

City baseball opens. Defending champion East’s Coach Crandall previews season. And Cruz Control is back.


City baseball opens; East set to defend title


East baseball takes the show on the road. Destination Pittsburgh

SOTA baseball

The School of the Arts does not have a long baseball tradition like East. Nonetheless, the program has had memorable moments: In 2003, Sheila Cortes was the first girl to play baseball in Monroe County; in 2008, SOTA won its first City Championship.

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, (left) 3/28/03, 3:46 p.m. Sheila Cortes runs down University Avenue with the baseball team. She played on the softball team last year. (right) 5/30/08 Dedication to offseason workouts helped Anthony McKnight and School of the Arts to their first city championship on May 21


Keeping score at Cobb’s Hill

Adding a SOTA baseball game and the Air Horn guy to the Cobb’s Hill series


SOTA’s Kenny Cruz awaits call from the big leagues. Bill Pucko “borrows” Talker’s nickname: Cruz Control


SOTA’s Kenny “Cruz Control:” from a Silverhawk to a Scarlet Knight

The Kenny Cruz watch: highest ranked outfielder in NYS, 22nd in the nation

East baseball triumphs again; SOTA’s Kenny Cruz named RCAC player of the year


No off season for SOTA’s rising baseball star. Oh, Kenny also currently has the highest GPA in the entire RCSD.

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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