BY JOHN THEALL Sports writer
A pair of local nines are ready to gear up for another season of competing in the New York Collegiate Baseball League, with action getting underway on Saturday night as the Sherrill Silversmiths travel to take on the new addition to the league, the Adirondack Trail Blazers.
Game time is set for 7 o’clock at the Robert S. Smith Sports Complex in Boonville.
General admission is free to every Trail Blazers home game, and parking is $5.
The Silversmiths play all their home games at Noyes Park in Sherrill, and their games are free of charge, as well.
The 12-team league will compete during a 40-game schedule over the course of two months followed by postseason play. The Trail Blazers and the Silversmiths will be joined by Athletes in Action squad from Webster, Geneva Red Wings, Geneva Twins, Hornell Dodgers, Niagara Power, Olean Oilers, Syracuse Junior Chiefs, Syracuse Salt Cats, Utica Brewers, and the Wellsville Nitros.
The Trail Blazers were formed at the beginning of January after the Rome Thunderbolts and the Boonville Youth Athletic Association reached an agreement that relocated the franchise to Boonville. The Thunderbolts were a part of collegiate baseball in the area for the past four years, three with the Eastern Collegiate Baseball League and last year with the Major League Baseball-sanctioned NYCBL.
Last year, Rome finished the season 27-17 and lost in the first round of the playoffs to the eventual NYCBL champion Oneonta Outlaws.
Former Thunderbolts team president Ray DiBrango of Whitesboro will serve as the general manager for the Trail Blazers, while former Oriskany Blazers of the Eastern Collegiate Baseball League General Manager Bobby Miller of Whitesboro will take over as president of the Adirondack franchise.
DiBrango cited declining attendance numbers at the time when the Thunderbolts suspended team operations at the conclusion of last season. The former American Legion baseball coach for Fort Schuyler Post stated that only 50-100 people were in attendance on a nightly basis at their home games, and the team was looking to generate a steady flow of between 200-250 spectators.
Miller said that it was unfortunate that the team couldn’t work in Rome but is excited for the opportunity to put out a product in the Adirondacks. "Boonville has been great. As sad as it is that the team left Rome, Boonville has really embraced this team as it’s own and kind of taken it upon itself to help us out. There is a buzz out there already right now. The people are really embracing us," said Miller. "Ray did a tremendous job in putting the team together. We’re very excited about the players that we have on this team," he added.
Miller said that the games can be listened to on the team’s website at: www.adirondacktrailblazers.com on the Teamline link.
There will also be youth camps during the season, with the first set for this weekend at the BYAA Sports Complex.
Rome-Utica area athletes for the Trail Blazers include, Holland Patent native and Mohawk Valley Community College pitcher Charles Parsons and MVCC left-handed pitcher Sean Badger from Utica.
The pitching staff also includes Ryan Krokos from Youngstown State, Sean Larson of Fredonia State, Dylan Griswold of Williams College, Kenny May of Lincoln College, John Clark of Georgia College, Ian Tresser from Fairfield University, Austin Bartley of Shippensburg University, Steven Bloodworth and Evon Previte both from Wagner College, Corbin Stykemain and Geoff Soja from Niagara University, and Mike Muglia and Jabin Weaver both from East Stroudsburg University.
The position players on the roster include Gooch Greer from Carson-Newman College, James Anderson from Harding University, Johann Knee of Fisher College, Chase Matheson from McHenry County College, Bobby McLaughlin of Alderson Broaddus College, Stewart Knight from Daytona State College, Matthew Robinson of Georgia College, Kevin Hix from Youngstown State, Travis Moe, Bryce Neal and Dezmon Nunn of Three Rivers Community College, Colton Campbell, Cody Campbell and Eric Baker all from Rogers State University, and Alex Simone from University West Alabama.
Filling out the lineup card for the team will be first-year head coach Ryne Foster, an assistant at Concordia University, Mich. The pitching coach for the Trail Blazers is Matt Leahy, an assistant at Utica College.
Foster played collegiate baseball at Anderson University, Ind. and now resides in Ann Arbor, Mich.
"I’ve been around baseball all my life. There is nothing better than playing baseball. It’s what I live, it’s what I breathe, and I want to get my passion around to the guys that we have here. This is an exciting experience for me, and I’m ready to get started," Foster said.
The Silversmiths finished last year with a 12-32 overall record and did not make the postseason.
The current roster includes outfielder Mitchell Iseneker from Sherrill, a junior at Mansfield University. Others who will be playing ball close to home are Hamilton native Jordan Doroshenko from St. John Fisher College and Oneida native Mitchell DuBois, a sophomore at Jefferson Community College.
The pitching staff includes Adam Breuer from Le Moyne College, Nicholas Douglass of Southern Maine, Tom Dybas of St. John Fisher College, Nate Eastman from MVCC, Jesus Hernandez of Maryland Eastern Shore, Hayden Hibberd of Cabrillo College, Colin Henneberger and Thomas Moriarty both from Hamilton College, Phil Ramos from Jefferson Community College, Oliver Pratt and Baron Roberts both from Young Harris College and Jonathan Stevens from SUNY Oswego.
Infielders include Tyler Decker from Jefferson Communtiy College, Taylor Hackett of Niagara University, Nick Lynch from California Davis and Mike Weakley from SUNY Brockport, while the outfielders include Bryon Campbell of Maryland Eastern Shore, Anthony Ragos of Davis and Elkins College and Mark Sherlock of Marywood University. The catching duties will be handled by Ernest Ruch III from Mansfield University and Wesley Van Boom from Brown University.
The squad will once again be coached by Ben Grimm, who enters his fourth season with the team.
Information about the teams and the NYCBL can also be found on the NYCBL website at: www.NYCBL.com