Returners will be key for New Hartford baseball team


(One in a Series)

NEW HARTFORD — The New Hartford baseball team is looking to build off last season.

The Spartans, who finished with nine wins during a shortened season, will look to build around four returning players from that team. There are two seniors – Will Gall and Connor Karwowski – to go along with nine juniors – including last year’s Tri-Valley League Rookie Pitcher of the Year Zach Philipkoski. There are also four sophomores and a freshman. 

“Like everyone, you go into each year and we’re a little bit inexperienced in some areas,” New Hartford coach Kevin Green, who is in his seventh season leading the program. “But, we’re inexperienced with kids that love baseball.”

The Spartans were set to open the regular season Friday against Vernon-Verona-Sherrill, but that was postponed. The team is scheduled to take on visiting Holland Patent at 4:30 p.m. Monday. 

New Hartford’s schedule also includes a game April 27 against Cicero-North Syracuse at Syracuse’s NBT Bank Stadium as part of the ALC Classic. That will be a good experience, Green said. 

This season, Green hopes the players continue to take steps, which will help the team have success. 

“I think what will make for a successful season for us is just continued development through practicing hard and playing the right way. Execution within our games is our goal,” said Green, a former minor league player with the Chicago Cubs. “So far, the kids have worked really hard. They’ve asked a lot of questions, so they’re very interested in making adjustments and open to being coached, which is fun, to work with a group like that.”

New Hartford will have to overcome the losses of pitcher/shortstop Kyle Corrie, outfielder Paul Circelli and catcher John Karwowski. 

The four returners will be leaned on to help the Spartans, Green said. Connor Karwowski is expected to key role at second base. He brings toughness, Green said. He also just missed hitting .400 last season. 

“We’ll need him to be a leader to his partner on the second base bag,” Green said. 

Gall and Philipkoski are the standout pitchers for New Hartford. Gall will be counted out to contribute more innings on the mound and he’ll also play first base.

After hitting nearly .370 last season, Gall will also be counted on the offensive side.

“We’ll need him to be an offensive catalyst and a run producer and a run scorer,” Green said. 

Offensively, the goal is to move the Spartans’ order along in any way, including hit-and-runs. 

“We’re definitely going to have to with the unknowns that we have. But, we’ll find out a lot more as we go,” Green said. “Until they get out and step in the batter box and really showcase what type of hitter and player they’re going to be, it is really doing what we can to move the order.” 

Philipkoski will focus on pitching this season after a big year as a sophomore.

“We’re going to need him to spearhead our rotation and be the guy that sets the tone for our 2, 3 and 4 guys,” Green said. He can be a force this year within the Tri-Valley League.” 

The other pitchers vying for a spot in the rotation are Collver, sophomores Rowan Gall and Matt Greene and freshman Logan Clarey.

Collver also plays third base and will be a “big part of the team’s success.” 

Other juniors on the team include Dominic Ambrose, Philip Cittadino, Jr., Derek DeFazio, Michael Graziano, Rajan Patel, Angelo Santomassino and Gabriel Spatto

The TVL remains tough, Green said. It includes Camden, which won a Section III title in Class B last year. The team has moved to Class A with New Hartford and Whitesboro this season. 

“It is going to be a grind,” Green said. “We’re all out there trying to prepare our players to play the game hard and the right way. By the end of it, you’re hoping you’re on top.” 


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