Season number two for the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League begins this evening with four games across Upstate New York. The last time a pitch was thrown in the PGCBL, the Newark Pilots, pictured the to the right, clinched the inaugural league championship with a doubleheader sweep at Amsterdam's Shuttleworth Park.
The Pilots, with returning manager Chris Ebright, begin defense of their championship tonight in the North Country as they tangle with the Watertown Wizards at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds with first pitch scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Last year, the Wizards featured the 2011 PGCBL Player of the Year in Erick Gaylord (Campbell). This season, the Wizards are led on the mound by Division II National Player of the Year finalist Rene Solis (St. Mary's, Texas).
The first pitch of the 2012 season will be thrown in Cooperstown at historic Doubleday Field. The Cooperstown Hawkeyes, managed by 2011 PGCBL Coach of the Year Eric Coleman, host Keith Griffin's Amsterdam Mohawks. Cooperstown won the PGCBL West last season and infielder Bryan Aanderud (Liberty) earned a share of the PGCBL batting championship. Keith Griffin has earned over 100 wins as the head coach of the Mohawks and Amsterdam finished just one win away from a third-straight summer baseball title last August.
Elsewhere, the Glens Falls Golden Eagles and Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs meet at East Field in Glens Falls. The Golden Eagles are the defending PGCBL East champions. The Green and Gold, under ninth-year head coach John Mayotte, triumphed 31 times during the regular season in 2011 and featured two of the top young stars in Josn Anderson (Yavapai/FIU) and Kyle Ruchim (Northwestern). Coach Mayotte has won over 200 games as the skipper of the Eagles. He'll face a first-year head coach in Mohawk Valley's Roberto Vaz. The Dawgs manager is coming off an NJCAA Division II national championship at LSU Eunice where he is an assistant coach. Mohawk Valley's current roster features three MLB draft picks and one of the stars from last year, Willie Gabay, was picked by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 15th round of yesterday's draft.
Rounding out the schedule, the Albany Dutchmen begin their second season at Bob Bellizzi Field inside the Christien Plumeri Sports Complex. Third-year head coach Nick Davey's Dutchmen led the PGCBL last season with over 90 stolen bases. Last year's Albany squad boasted seven selections to the PGCBL All-Star Game in Elmira. The Dutchmen also had their first former player drafted yesterday when Ben Klimesh went in the 15th round to the Cincinnati Reds. Elmira Pioneers head coach Dan Shwam, like Nick Davey, is in his third season. Shwam led the professional Pioneers in 1997 to a Northeast League championship and two years ago, he guided Elmira to a division title and a championship series appearance. The 2011 Pioneers were led by infielder Ryan Normoyle (Washington, Md.) who earned a share of the PGCBL batting championship. When the Pioneers do return home to the Twin Tiers, they'll be welcomed in by a newly-renovated Dunn Field.
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