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Notice to Fans

AS OWNERS OF THE NEWARK PILOTS WE WANT EVERYONE TO KNOW THAT CURRENTLY WE PLAN TO OPERATE OUR BASEBALL SEASON AS SCHEDULED WITHIN THE PARAMETERS OF THE CDC AND LOCAL HEALTH DEPARTMENT GUIDELINES.

SPORTS HAS ALWAYS BROUGHT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE TOGETHER IN TIMES OF ADVERSITY.

WHILE WE ARE HEAVILY IMPACTED FINANCIALLY, LIKE MANY SMALL BUSINESSES, WE ARE COMMITTED TO BRINGING YOU A MUCH NEEDED FORM OF PUBLIC ENTERTAINMENT THIS SUMMER.

GO PILOTS 2020!
STAY HEALTHY AND STAY SAFE

CAROL AND STEVE SZATKO

Carpenter’s First-Pitch Grand Slam Helps Diamond Dawgs Slam Newark

LITTLE FALLS, NY – Hundreds of people packed Veteran’s Memorial Park for the Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs’ home opener expecting to see the post-game fireworks. They didn’t expect to get some mid-game fireworks as well.

Joseph Carpenter’s grand slam capped off a 7-run fifth, while Hunter Sibley threw nothing but fireballs, striking out six in Mohawk Valley’s 9-1 home opener victory over the Newark Pilots.

The Diamond Dawgs got on the board in a most unusual way in the bottom of the third. A balk by Newark starter Kenneth Westbrook (Binghamton, NY/St. John Fisher) was able to bring home Owen Wosleger (East Hampton, CT/Mount St. Mary’s) for Mohawk Valley’s first run of the 2019 campaign.

After two strikeouts, Joseph Carpenter (Cornwall, PA/Delaware) put the first pitch he saw from reliever Michael Sollitto (North Providence, RI/UMass Dartmouth) over the left field fence for a grand slam in the fifth inning. Dylan Klock (St. Johnsville, NY/St. Thomas Aquinas) and Owen Wosleger would add RBIs as well. Klock brought home Ryan Hernandez (Tampa, FL/Houston) and Nick Cimillo (Airmont, NY/Manhattan) on a sharp single to left field, while Wosleger brought home Kyle Maurice (Exeter, NH/UMass Lowell) on a fielder’s choice. In all, 12 Diamond Dawgs made it to the plate in the fifth, accounting for seven runs on six hits to make it an 8-0 game.

On the mound, starter Hunter Sibley (Millville, NJ/Iona) had as good a debut as you could possibly have. Sibley threw six strong innings for Mohawk Valley, only allowing two hits while striking out six.

In his best imitation of Carpenter, Newark’s (0-1) Shaun Hillis (Derby, CT/Iona) parked a ball in the same spot as Carpenter’s in left-center field in the top of the eighth. Unfortunately for Hillis, the only run he brought home was himself to cut the lead to 8-1.

Jimmy Joyce (Wantagh, NY/Hofstra) would extend the Mohawk Valley lead back to eight on an RBI single to left field that would score Kyle Johnson.

From there, Drew Helmstetter (Franklin, NJ/Iona) and Connor Stapleton (Staten Island, NY/Concordia) would keep the game in the win column for Sibley, throwing four combined strikeouts to keep the Pilots off the basepaths and secure the win for the Diamond Dawgs (1-0).

Sibley picked up a win in his debut for Mohawk Valley, while Westbrook picked up the loss for Newark.

The Diamond Dawgs will continue their four-game tour of the new Western Division on Saturday as they head to Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds to face the Watertown Rapids. The Pilots will continue their road trip on Saturday when they head to McDonough Park to face the Geneva Red Wings.

Big Dan the Diamond Guy

When someone outside the county hears the name Dan Wilkinson, they may think of a man once called “Big Daddy,” a 6’4’’ defensive tackle drafted first overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1994.

But around these parts, particularly in Newark, you’re likely not thinking about the big man from “The” Ohio State University, but rather, “Big Dan,” who also spent time in the NFL, and playing minor league baseball. He, too, has heard the accolades, but has come to prefer the quiet time on the diamond, instead.

He’s had it both ways, whether it was impersonating NFL running backs like Freeman McNeil on a Buffalo Bills practice squad, or playing pro baseball in the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros organizations. But, baseball is what led him to his life’s work of 37 years, as one of the best-known and well-respected groundskeepers in the country.

“It kept me active,” Wilkinson recalls. “It’s hard for people to let go after their playing careers are over, so this was a way to stay connected.”

Dan got his start grooming fields in Plant City, Fla. under the tutelage of the famous George Toma. Toma, among other things, is known for preparing EVERY Super Bowl field.

Spring Training is the perfect place for someone with the desire to remain part of the game to get their start. Each MLB team has over a dozen fields to work on, so manpower is imperative. Dan learned quickly under Toma, and word got around that the Lyons native may be among the best in (or on) the field.

After getting summoned to Auburn to fix a mound issue, word went through the Astros organization on the job Wilkinson did. Houston then retained his services to fix any hill west of the Mississippi for Hall-of-Famer, Nolan Ryan. If the “Express” was coming through, Dan was there to make sure the tracks were smooth enough for a speedy ride, to many hitters’ dismay. But, Wilkinson isn’t one to brag.

He makes it sound simple:

“If there was something about the mound they liked, word traveled and got out and I’d get a call.”

Yeah, a call. Calls from the ‘Stros, the Cubs, the O’s, the Blue Jays, the University of Texas, Florida, Florida State, and even the Rochester Red Wings and Rhinos when the teams shared Frontier Field and needed to flip dirt into grass, and back to dirt like trying to shave and re-grow hair over a weekend, or less.

He’d get it done.

It’s a simple lesson in just showing-up and doing a job well. But, Wilkinson, a rather stoic man, doesn’t talk about his success, or the players he’s come across unless someone pries it from him. He loves what he does as much for the solitude, peace and quiet—other than the music of mowers humming in the background—as he enjoys staying connected to the game, at Colburn Park with the Newark Pilots.

The once professional park, which is built to host about 60 games a season (the Pilots play an average of 25 each summer, now gets used 125 times from April through September for various leagues. While the field isn’t built for that (high school and youth leagues try to get wet or damp April games in at any cost other than puddles, and continue long after the Pilots are finished), Dan has done his best to make sure every player using that field enjoys a big league experience.

But soon, the Pilots, who are the Park’s longest tenants, will have to call on someone else to create that environmen–for the rest of the summer, that is.
Wilkinson had his colon removed in 2011 for cancer and, after several years of living free of the disease, an annual body scan has found a recurrence in one of his kidneys.

“It’s on the inside of the kidney, so they have to go right in,” he says nonchalantly as if he’s going to get a haircut. “There is a possibility I could lose it, but they hope they can just remove half of it.

“They scan me every year inside and out. That’s why it’s treatable. They catch it early. No chemo or radiation after. Recovery time is about 10-to-12 weeks.”

Odds are, without Dan manning the grounds at Colburn Park during his recovery, he’ll return in better shape than the field.

But, as those who know Wilkinson will attest, he won’t complain, but will calmly enjoy the challenge of returning the park back into the field where hundreds of people live out their dreams.

PGCBL Shapes Bright Future With Organizational, Structural Changes

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League (PGCBL) announced today that it has completed its corporate transition to a limited liability company to provide the league with strong organizational governance for the future.

All the existing PGCBL teams have become members of the corporation and the league’s newest franchise in Watertown, which is set to debut in the upcoming 2018 season, was admitted as the 14th team.

In addition to the corporate re-structuring, the PGCBL unanimously decided to divide the league’s 14 teams in a new three-division structure. In addition to the traditional East and West Divisions, a Central Division will be added to the mix in 2018. The breakdown of the three divisions is as follows:

East

Central

West

Albany

Adirondack

Elmira

Amsterdam

Mohawk Valley

Geneva

Glens Falls

Utica

Jamestown

Oneonta

Watertown*

Newark

 Saugerties

Onondaga**

*Will play its inaugural season in 2018.
**Elected voluntary suspension for 2018 season.

Each division nominated a member to sit on the newly-organized Executive Committee. Robbie Nichols (Elmira) will represent the West, Travis Heiser (Mohawk Valley) will represent the Central and Jason Brinkman (Albany) will represent the East. Alyce Lee (Onondaga) was elected treasurer.

In addition to its ongoing duties, the Executive Committee has been given the additional responsibility of managing the company until a new independent Operating Manager is hired. A national search is being conducted to find a strong leader with experience in collegiate and/or minor league baseball to fill the newly recreated office.

Jason Brinkman, vice president and general manager of the Albany Dutchmen, said, “With the corporate transition and the addition of Watertown’s experienced ownership group, we have strengthened the foundation of the league.  It will be an exciting challenge to identify an Operating Manager that will help guide us towards continued future success.”

The PGCBL also elected a scheduling committee in the same divisional representational manner, with the task of preparing the 2018 schedule.

Robbie Nichols, owner of the Elmira Pioneers, commented, “In the six seasons since owning the Elmira Pioneers, this was by far the best and most productive meeting yet. We are united and adding a strong Watertown franchise with a quality ownership group makes our league even better.”

Bob Ohmann, together with his wife, Leslie, owners of the Newark Pilots and Geneva Red Wings added, “Saturday’s meeting was a wonderful coming together to take the PGCBL to a new level. The continuous unanimous votes on all pertinent issues showed that we were all on the same page. We came away from the meeting completely satisfied with our direction for the future.”

Echoing those sentiments was, Travis Heiser, owner of the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs, who said, “It was very evident that we are all deeply committed to being the very best summer collegiate baseball league in the country.”

About the PGCBL
The Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League is a 14-team summer collegiate baseball league in Upstate New York. Since its inaugural season in 2011, the PGCBL – which annually draws talent from some of the best NCAA, NAIA, and junior college programs – has quickly evolved into the premier wood bat league in the state of New York, while becoming one of the most widely respected summer leagues in the country. The PGCBL is affiliated with Perfect Game, the nation’s largest independent amateur scouting bureau. Last year, there were more than 1,500 players in the pros who either wore the uniform of a PGCBL team or participated in a Perfect Game event. For more information, please visit www.pgcbl.com.

2017 PGCBL All-League Team Announced

The Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League (PGCBL) unveiled today the All-League Team for the 2017 season, as determined by a polling of the league’s head coaches. Nine of the 13 teams in the PGCBL were represented with at least one selection on the First or Second Team, led by the Amsterdam Mohawks and Elmira Pioneers with six honorees apiece.

PGGCBL logoHighlighting this year’s postseason all-star squad are Jamestown catcher Christ Conley (Canisius), the 2017 PGCBL Player of the Year, and Albany righty Matt Pierce (Siena), the 2017 Pitcher of the Year award winner. Conley broke the single-season records for walks (51) and on-base percentage (.582), while leading the circuit with a .610 slugging percentage and ranking second with a .382 batting average. Pierce had a record-breaking summer of his own, as reliever-turned-ace registered a league-best 1.71 ERA and established a new high for wins in a season with eight.

Conley, who garnered Second-Team All-League honors with the Jammers last season, is one of two players that was recognized for the second time this year. Mohawk Valley reliever Zach Vennaro (Mount Olive) completed his third go-around with the DiamondDawgs in 2017 and added an All-League First Team selection to his Second Team award from a year ago.

Several of the league’s statistical leaders were rightfully award this season. Batting champion and Amsterdam Mohawk standout, John Valente (St. John’s), who led all batsmen with a .422 clip, was included on the First Team at third base, and across the diamond, Mohawk Valley’s Russ Olive (UMass Lowell) was named the top first baseman in the PGCBL this season after leading the league in both home runs (8) and RBIs (42). Albany’s Justin Bureau (Ave Maria) tied Vennaro for first place with eight saves this summer and both were elected to the First Team. Alex Bellardini (Youngstown State) racked up a league-high 61.0 innings of work in nine starts for Geneva and was rewarded with a spot on the Second Team.

Two of the three award winners from the 2017 All-Star Game festivities earned additional hardware with an All-League selection. Prospect Game MVP Eric Rivera (Florida Atlantic) and Home Run Derby champ Conor Grammes (Xavier) were both recognized on the First Team.

Below are the complete 2017 PGCBL All-League First and Second Teams:

2017 PGCBL All-League First Team
C – Christ Conley (Canisius) – Jamestown
1B – Russ Olive (UMass Lowell) – Mohawk Valley
2B – Nick Estrella (Azusa Pacific) – Albany
SS – Nick Gallo (Oklahoma State) – Albany
3B – John Valente (St. John’s) – Amsterdam
OF – John Conti (Canisius) – Jamestown
OF – Brian Uliana (Rider) – Glens Falls
OF – Eric Rivera (Florida Atlantic) – Amsterdam
DH/UTL – Conor Grammes (Xavier) – Elmira

SP – Matt Pierce (Siena) – Albany
SP – David Lyskawa (Niagara County C.C.) – Jamestown
SP – Andrew Saalfrank (Indiana) – Amsterdam
SP – Houston Roth (Ole Miss) – Elmira
RP – Zach Vennaro (Mount Olive) – Mohawk Valley
RP – Justin Bureau (Ave Maria) – Albany

2017 PGCBL All-League Second Team
C – Marshall Gilbert (John A. Logan) – Elmira
1B – Liam Wilson (Canisius) – Amsterdam
2B – Jimmy Standohar (Mercyhurst) – Jamestown
SS – Will Holland (Auburn) – Amsterdam
3B – Hunter Wells (Tyler J.C.) – Newark
OF – Mikey Arman (Kenyon) – Geneva
OF – Matt Chamberlain (New Haven) – Geneva
OF – Ayrton Schafer (Samford) – Elmira
DH/UTL – Allbry Major (Xavier) – Elmira

SP – Alex Bellardini (Youngstown State) – Geneva
SP – Henry Martinez (Cypress) – Newark
SP – Grant Donahue (Virginia) – Elmira
SP – Thomas Lane (Boston College) – Amsterdam
RP – Matt Bowman (SUNY Broome C.C.) – Onondaga
RP – Allbry Major (Xavier) – Elmira

About the PGCBL
The Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League is a 13-team summer collegiate baseball league in Upstate New York. Since its inaugural season in 2011, the PGCBL – which annually draws talent from some of the best NCAA, NAIA, and junior college programs – has quickly evolved into the premier wood bat league in the state of New York, while becoming one of the most widely respected summer leagues in the country. The PGCBL is affiliated with Perfect Game, the nation’s largest independent amateur scouting bureau. Last year, there were more than 1,500 players in the pros who either wore the uniform of a PGCBL team or participated in a Perfect Game event. For more information, please visit www.pgcbl.com.

Albany Dutchmen RHP Matt Pierce Named 2017 PGCBL Pitcher of the Year

Albany Dutchmen Matt Pierce
Photo Credit: Travis Larner

The Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League (PGCBL) is pleased today to announce Albany Dutchmen right-hander Matt Pierce (Siena) as the recipient of the 2017 PGCBL Pitcher of the Year award, as voted on by the league’s head coaches.

Pierce helped the Dutchmen (33-16) qualify for the postseason as the second seed out of the East Division by leading the league with the lowest earned-run average among qualified pitchers and breaking the single-season wins record, a mark held by several previous Pitcher of the Year honorees.

“It feels rewarding to be named Pitcher of the Year,” Pierce said. “It feels great to see all of the hard work put in over these past months of summer baseball pay off. I couldn’t have done it without my team, not only are they great ball players but all around great people as well. Also for my coaching staff, they had my back throughout the entire summer.”

“I’ve known Matt for at least five or six years now, from coaching his teams or giving him lessons, and I cannot be happier for a kid that’s worked as hard as he has,” said Albany head coach Nick Davey. “He earned this award, it wasn’t given to him. You couldn’t pick a better person to be the first Dutchmen player in the franchise’s history to win an end-of-year award.”

The 6-foot-2, 234-pound righty posted an 8-1 record with a 1.71 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 42.0 innings of work on the mound this summer. He not only led the PGCBL in both wins and ERA, but his eight victories established a new single-season record, one more than the likes of Joe DeSarro (Herkimer/SNHU), Zach Logue (Kentucky) and Chandler Shepherd (Kentucky), who each garnered Pitcher of the Year accolades during their time in the PGCBL. Although he wasn’t a strikeout pitcher like each of the aforementioned hurlers, Pierce’s 1.17 WHIP was tied for the third-lowest in the league in 2017.

Pierce’s improbable run to the top pitching honor began out of the Albany bullpen. As a freshman at Siena College this spring he was used exclusively as a reliever, and as a result, he began the month of June with four consecutive relief outings before earning his first start.

“He started immediately out of the bullpen for us because I’m a firm believer that you don’t win games in the first five innings, so we like to have depth and quality arms coming out of the back end of our bullpen,” Davey explained.

After back-to-back hitless relief appearances, Davey gave Pierce a spot start on June 20 in a home game against Glens Falls. The Schenectady, N.Y., native twirled a gem with 6.0 shutout innings and two strikeouts without issuing a walk, helping the Dutchmen roll to a 10-0 victory.

“My goal this summer was to work towards gaining a role as a starting pitcher,” Pierce said. “I didn’t expect that to be given to me, so I looked to be as efficient as possible during my relief outings to hopefully transfer that efficiency into a starting outing if given the opportunity.”

Following a successful audition, Pierce solidified his spot in the rotation for the second half of the season with Albany fighting to secure a home playoff game.

“Once we put in him into the starting lineup, we couldn’t take him out of it,” Davey added.

In his final four outings – all starts – Pierce was a perfect 4-0. He held Oneonta scoreless and struck out a season-high-tying six in 6.0 innings on July 6 to begin the stellar stretch. In Amsterdam on July 14, he held the red-hot Mohawks offense to just one run in 6.0 innings, guiding Albany to a 10-4 victory over the East Division regular-season champs. In his final appearance on July 30, the rising sophomore struck out six and earned his record-breaking eighth win of the season in a lopsided 14-2 decision on the road against Onondaga.

As a starter Pierce was masterful; he finished the 2017 campaign with an unblemished 5-0 record and a 1.55 ERA in five starts.

According to Pierce, his time with the Albany Dutchmen organization was “a great summer baseball experience.”

“Playing in this league was a huge help because of the competition we faced,” he said. “Facing great players from different schools really kept me busy each day and each outing, as tried to improve as a pitcher.”

PGCBL Pitcher of the Year Award Winners
2017: Matt Pierce (Albany) – Siena
2016: Joe DeSarro (Mohawk Valley) – Herkimer/SNHU; Brennen Price (Victor) – Canisius
2015: Zach Logue (Amsterdam) – Kentucky; Kyano Cummings (Elmira) – Siena
2014: Jayson Yano (Newark) – Stevens Institute of Technology
2013: Eann Cox (Cooperstown) – Black Hawk College
2012: Chandler Shepherd (Amsterdam) – Kentucky
2011: Dominick Ruscitti (Newark) – Kutztown

About the PGCBL
The Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League is a 13-team summer collegiate baseball league in Upstate New York. Since its inaugural season in 2011, the PGCBL – which annually draws talent from some of the best NCAA, NAIA, and junior college programs – has quickly evolved into the premier wood bat league in the state of New York, while becoming one of the most widely respected summer leagues in the country. The PGCBL is affiliated with Perfect Game, the nation’s largest independent amateur scouting bureau. Last year, there were more than 1,500 players in the pros who either wore the uniform of a PGCBL team or participated in a Perfect Game event. For more information, please visit www.pgcbl.com.

Jamestown’s Christ Conley Crowned 2017 PGCBL Player of the Year

Christ Conley

The Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League (PGCBL) is pleased to announce today that Jamestown Jammers catcher Christ Conley (Canisius) has been named the 2017 PGCBL Player of the Year, as voted on by the league’s head coaches.

Conley returned to Jamestown for a second stint in the PGCBL after earning All-Star and Second-Team All-League accolades with the Jammers in 2016. He one-upped last year’s outstanding performance by garnering highest honor doled out by the league to a batter, while breaking some records along the way.

Photo credits: Travis Larner

“It’s an honor to win this award and it’s something I wasn’t expecting,” Conley said. “I don’t like to think too much about awards from a personal standpoint; the main goal for every team is to win a championship. For a team to make it to a championship you’re going to have some good teammates and it makes it easier to play when you’re surrounded by other guys who are doing well.”

“Christ is an on-base machine and he is mature beyond his years,” stated Jeff Kunion, president of the PGCBL. “He doesn’t waste at-bats and he controls the game from behind the plate. I’m looking forward to watching him play for an MLB organization next summer.”

Conley amassed one of the most impressive slash lines in league history in 41 regular-season games played in a Jamestown uniform this season. He ranked second among qualified batsmen with a .382 average (47-for-123) while leading the entire PGCBL with a .582 on-base percentage and a .610 slugging percentage – he was the only qualified batter in the circuit with an on-base percentage above .500 and a slugging percentage above .600. In terms of league history, Conley shattered the previous record for on-base percentage, which was set by 2014 Player of the Year Josh Gardiner (.543). His slugging percentage is the third highest all-time and his batting average ranks seventh.

Bolstering Conley’s numbers at the dish was his record-setting patience. In 190 total plate appearances over the course of the regular season, the rising senior from Canisius College drew 51 walks – breaking the previous league mark by eight – versus only 20 strikeouts. Although he wasn’t the fleetest of foot in the Jamestown lineup, the 6-foot-1, 230-pound backstop found a home batting lead-off due to his uncanny ability to reach base safely. He did so in 40-of-41 games, with the lone exception coming on June 24, when he went 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the ninth inning.

The Derby, N.Y., native, however, was not only able to earn a plethora of free passes from opposing pitchers, but he also flexed his muscles and displayed tremendous pop in his bat. Conley registered 13 doubles and launched five home runs, ranking among the top five in the league in both categories.

For the second year in a row, Conley started for the West Division in the annual PGCBL All-Star Game. He singled to lead-off the top of the first inning and drove in a run with an RBI grounder in the third. He was also recognized as the Week 1 Player of the Week, a prelude to the incredible season he would go on to record. Over the course of his two seasons as a Jammer, he amassed a combined 85 hits, including 20 doubles and eight homers, to go along with 69 runs, 52 RBIs and a whopping 93 walks.

“I am so proud of Christ,” Jamestown head coach Anthony Barone said. “He has been a mainstay in our lineup over the past two seasons. He is a winner and always puts the team first. I’m glad he can enjoy this award, being recognized as the most valuable player in the PGCBL. His numbers speak for themselves, along with the fact that he was the backbone on a first-place team.”

Barone added, “He will get his chance at professional baseball and he proved himself these past two seasons. He was the head of the class this season in one of the premier leagues in the country.”

According to Conley, the decision to return to Jamestown in 2017 was an easy one. Not only is Russell E. Diethrick Jr. Park a short drive from his hometown, he noted that the Jammers run a first-class organization and that the competition in the PGCBL provides an invaluable experience on the diamond.

“It’s a great community with great fans,” Conley said. “We are treated like a pro ball team and that makes the summer experience that much better.”

“It’s a very well-run league and I’m lucky to have been a part of it and the Jammers organization for the last two seasons” he added. “This league has good competition. To come here for the summer and be successful can help give you confidence going back to school for the spring season.”

PGCBL Player of the Year Award Winners
2017: Christ Conley (Jamestown) – Canisius
2016: Joe Genord (Amsterdam) – South Florida
2015: Christian Santisteban (Elmira) – Manhattan
2014: Josh Gardiner (Amsterdam) – Radford
2013: John Nogowski (Amsterdam) – Florida State
2012: Ross Kivett (Glens Falls) – Kansas State
2011: Erick Gaylord (Watertown) – CampbellAbout the PGCBL
The Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League is a 13-team summer collegiate baseball league in Upstate New York. Since its inaugural season in 2011, the PGCBL – which annually draws talent from some of the best NCAA, NAIA, and junior college programs – has quickly evolved into the premier wood bat league in the state of New York, while becoming one of the most widely respected summer leagues in the country. The PGCBL is affiliated with Perfect Game, the nation’s largest independent amateur scouting bureau. Last year, there were more than 1,500 players in the pros who either wore the uniform of a PGCBL team or participated in a Perfect Game event. For more information, please visit www.pgcbl.com.